Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 8

The Cards' Single-A club struggled on the road, going 1-4, but Justin Ringo has sparked the offense.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, May 20 to Monday, May 26.

Following a split of the remaining two games against Clinton, the Peoria Chiefs struggled this week on the road, posting just one win away from Dozer Park in five road contests.

The offense exploded for 14 runs on Tuesday, May 20 against the LumberKings (SEA), but the next day the team was blanked 5-0.

The team then hit the road for a six-game trip against Burlington (LAA) and Kane County (CHC). Peoria took the opener against the Bees, but then dropped the next two in Iowa before heading to Kane County and dropping two more.

The four-game losing streak dropped the team's record to 27-23 on the season, but they remain in second place, 6.5 games behind Kane County.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, May 20: Peoria Chiefs 14, Clinton Lumber Kings 3
Peoria's offense cranked out 20 hits, three of which left the yard, en route to blasting Clinton in the second game of the series.

Mason Katz hit a pair of bombs and knocked in a run with a single as part of a six-run second inning. Steve Bean had three hits, two of which came in the second inning, making him the second Chief this season to pick up multiple hits in an inning. Michael Schulze did it earlier this month.

Jimmy Reed started and tossed 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine and allowing a career-high 11 hits. Jeff Rauh and Zach Loraine combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.

Ronald Castillo was the only Chiefs batter to not collect a hit.

Wednesday, May 21: Clinton LumberKings 5 at Peoria Chiefs 0
The Chiefs' offense tallied eight hits, but all of them were singles and they could not put a run on the board in the finale of the series against the LumberKings.

Peoria only managed to get multiple runners on base in one inning. Kenny Peoples-Walls and Justin Ringo singled with two outs in the seventh, but Mason Katz lined out to end the frame.

Clinton scored a pair of unearned runs in the second inning. Blake McKnight got a ground ball to Juan Herrera with two outs, but Herrera threw wide at first. Chantz Mack singled to make it 2-0.

Schulze and C.J. McElroy picked up a pair of hits apiece for Peoria. Herrera and Carson Kelly each went 0-for-4.

Thursday, May 22: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Burlington Bees 3
Starter Rob Kaminsky was excellent again for Peoria, but he did not factor into the decision, despite going six innings and allowing two unearned runs on two hits. Kaminsky also walked a batter but struck out a career-high nine.

The Chiefs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third as Jimmy Bosco reached on an error and scored on two more flyouts. In the fourth, Mason Katz homered again, his third in his last three games played, to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead.

Burlington scored three runs in the seventh to take the lead on a pair of singles, a wild pitch, and an error.

Peoria rallied in the ninth, however. Vaughn Bryan singled and scored on a Ringo double. Ringo moved to third on a groundout and scored on a Peoples-Walls two-out, two-strike single.

Zach Loraine pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save of the season. The win was Peoria's first when trailing after seven innings this season. They entered the game 0-18.

Friday, May 23: Burlington Bees 8, Peoria Chiefs 3
Burlington scored three runs in the first inning en route to evening the series at one apiece heading into the finale.

Michael Holback's second start for Peoria did not go as well as the first. The righty gave up four runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out six and walked two in the outing as well.

The Chiefs picked up a run in the second off a Carson Kelly home run, his third of the season. Peoria would add another run in the sixth and one more in the ninth.

Ringo continued his hot hitting with two more hits and another run scored, bringing his average up to .438.

Saturday, May 24: Burlington Bees 4, Peoria Chiefs 3
Peoria's rally fell short against the Bees in the series finale.

Burlington scored a run apiece in the first and third innings before Peoria used a two-run home run by Justin Ringo to tie the game at two. It did not last long.

A leadoff triple followed by a home run gave the Bees a 4-2 lead, and although the Chiefs were able to put two runners in scoring position in the seventh, they couldn't push the tying run home.

McElroy, Herrera, Ringo, and Katz each had two hits for Peoria. Starter Arturo Reyes took the loss, yielding three earned runs on six hits in just over six innings pitched.

Sunday, May 25: Kane County Cougars 7, Peoria Chiefs 3
Peoria's pitching staff couldn't keep the Cougars off the scoreboard and dropped the opener of a three-game series. Alex Reyes struck out seven batters over his 6 2/3 innings, but the Cougars knocked in four runs against him on six hits.

Chase Brookshire wasn't much better out of the bullpen. He got the Chiefs out of the seventh inning, but the lefty gave up three more runs on four hits before doing so. Jhonny Polanco pitched a hitless eighth inning in relief.

Offensively, Ringo picked up another hit for Peoria and drew a walk. Bryan, Schulze, and Juan Herrera each tallied an RBI for the Chiefs.

Monday, May 26: Kane County Cougars 5, Peoria Chiefs 4
Twice the Chiefs took the lead in the middle game of this three-game series and twice they gave it up before falling to Kane County in 11 innings.

Jimmy Reed was great, pitching into the seventh inning and setting a career high in the process. The lefty was in line for the victory behind a Gerwuins Velazco homer and a bases loaded walk, but was left without a decision when Zach Loraine blew the save.

After Steve Sabatino threw 1 2/3 hitless innings, he too was in line for a victory. The Chiefs took a 4-3 lead in the 10th on a sac fly by Richy Pedroza, but Kevin Herget couldn't hold the lead, allowing a game-tying sac fly before serving up a game-ending home run.

Velazco had four of Peoria's nine hits, including two of their three extra-base hits, in his return to the lineup.

Who's Hot

Justin Ringo. The left-handed hitter has been on fire since joining the team last week. In his debut, Ringo went 3-for-4, scored four times, and finished a triple shy of the cycle. He hasn't let up since. The California native has totaled 23 at-bats for the Chiefs and has hits in 10 of them, with seven runs scored and a pair of home runs. The 23-year-old has collected at least one hit in every game and has a ridiculous 1.350 OPS.

Will he be able to keep that up? I doubt it. But for now, he's provided a spark to an offense that desperately needed one.

Jimmy Reed. Reed was brilliant in Monday's loss to Kane County. The lefty went 7 1/3 innings, allowing a run on four hits. He didn't walk anyone and struck out three. The outing was the longest for a Chiefs pitcher this season and the longest since August 8, 2013 when Silfredo Garcia threw nine innings in a 10-inning win over Wisconsin.

On the season, Reed's stats may not look that great, but over the past week, the Maryland native yielded four runs in 13 2/3 innings pitched and put up a spectacular 12 strikeouts without walking a batter.

Who's Not

Alex Reyes. After giving up eight earned runs total in his first six starts this season, Reyes got tattooed by Clinton last week, yielding eight runs on just four hits in 3 2/3 innings. The righty had issues with his control against the LumberKings, walking six batters on the night.

Things got better for him his second start of the week, but he still took the loss to Kane County. The New Jersey native tossed 6 2/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits. The control was much better, however, as he struck out seven batters and walked just one.

Richy Pedroza. Pedroza hasn't been with the Chiefs for very long, but in that time he has done nothing to establish himself offensively. The switch-hitter has tallied 13 at-bats for Peoria and finally collected his first hit yesterday. On the bright side, the California native has drawn six walks and has yet to strike out, giving him an on-base percentage of .350 on the season.

Injuries

Cesar Valera remains on the 7-day disabled list with a wrist/hand injury.

Joe Scanio remains on the 7-day DL with a wrist injury.

Justin Ringo dislocated his shoulder sliding into second base on Sunday, May 25. He's listed as day-to-day.

Ronald Castillo was placed on the 7-day DL with an abdominal strain, but he took batting practice prior to Monday's game and is eligible to be activated on Tuesday.

Transactions

Peoria activated catcher Gerwuins Velazco from the DL and placed Ronald Castillo on the 7-day DL.

Jeff Rauh was assigned to Cardinals Extended Spring Training. To replace him, Jhonny Polanco joined the team from State College.

Finally, Justin Ringo was assigned to the Chiefs from the Johnson City Cardinals last Tuesday.

Welcome back, Gerwuins

Peoria activated Gerquins Velazco from the DL last week, but with Bean and Kelly on the roster, it took a while for the Chiefs to get the Venezuelan into the lineup. They did on Monday, and he responded with a 4-for-4 day at the plate, including his third career home run. The right-handed hitter's only other career blast with Peoria came in July of last year, and the four hits tied a career high.

Peoria Chiefs Team Stats

The Chiefs offensive stats all went up last week, with most of that attributed to the 14-run outburst early. However, the team did hit seven home runs over the last week, moving them from the 2nd-fewest in the Midwest League up to the top ten.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .245 10th
Runs 224 10th
OPS .664 12th
Doubles 67 14th
HR 22 T-10th
Steals 51 7th
     
Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
ERA 3.90 8th
Strikeouts 436 2nd
Walks 180 T-5th Most
HR allowed 33 3rd Most
Saves 15 3rd Most

Midwest League Western Division Standings

It was not the greatest week for the Chiefs, but the LumberKings struggled too, so Peoria maintains its grasp on second place for now. The Chiefs "magic number" to clinch a spot in the postseason in the first half currently sits at 20.

Club W L PCT GB L 10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (CHC) 34 17 .667 - 7-3 W2
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 27 23 .540 6.5 3-7 L4
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 25 23 .521 7.5 4-6 L1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 25 24 .510 8.0 7-3 W4
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 24 26 .480 9.5 5-5 L2
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 23 26 .469 10.0 4-6 W1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 23 27 .460 10.5 5-5 W1
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 23 28 .451 11.0 4-6 L1

What's Next

The Chiefs wrap up the series with the Cougars Tuesday with Blake McKnight (1-4, 6.68 ERA) going against right-hander Duane Underwood (1-1, 2.43). The team returns home for a six-game home stand, starting with three against Burlington (LAA) and three more against Kane County (CHC).



Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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