Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 12

The Cards' Single-A club returns home looking to set a strong second course despite three key hitters out due to injury. Carson Kelly is among those heating up to help fill the void.

The week that was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, June 17 through Monday, June 23.

The Peoria Chiefs looked to put the disappointing finish to the first half of the 2014 season behind them as they traveled to Quad Cities for a four-game series against the River Bandits.

Yet again, rain wreaked havoc on the team's schedule, postponing two games of the series, one of which was made up Friday in a doubleheader. When the weather let them play, the Chiefs played well, and took two of three from Quad Cities.

Game Summaries

Thursday, June 19: Peoria Chiefs at Quad Cities River Bandits POSTPONED

Heavy rain forced the delay of the Chiefs' second half opener. It was made up as part of a doubleheader Friday.

Friday, June 20 (Game 1): Quad Cities River Bandits 2, Peoria Chiefs 1 (7 in.)

Peoria's bats were silenced in the first game of Friday's doubleheader. QC starter Edison Frias went six shutout innings, allowing just five hits. The righty walked a pair of batters and struck out four Chiefs.

Jimmy Reed was effective again for Peoria, giving up a pair of runs in five innings while striking out nine. In his last three starts, Reed has allowed just five runs in 18 innings, good for a 2.50 ERA, while totaling 20 strikeouts.

Justin Ringo had a pair of hits to extend his hitting streak to twelve games. Mason Katz singled in the seventh and was erased on a fielder's choice hit into by Richy Pedroza, but pinch-hitter Luis Perez doubled Pedroza in. One out later, C.J. McElroy grounded out with the tying run on second to end the game.

Friday, June 20 (Game 2): Peoria Chiefs 1 at Quad Cities River Bandits 0 (7 in.)

The biggest event in the nightcap of the doubleheader occurred in the first inning. Vaughn Bryan singled and was thrown out at third on a single by Juan Herrera. Herrera tried to steal second and was thrown out, but injured his ankle and had to leave the game. That cost the Chiefs their DH, as Pedroza was forced to move from 2B to SS, Katz from 1B to 2B, and Ringo from the DH spot to 1B.

Chase Brookshire gave up four hits over 5 ? scoreless innings and picked up the win. Kevin Herget tossed an inning and a third and allowed a hit, before turning it over to Steve Sabatino, who struck out Brett Booth to end the game.

Peoria's only run came in the third. Luis Perez singled, went to second on an error, third on a groundout, and scored on a single by Michael Schulze. Also, Brookshire took the Chiefs' first non-rehab at-bat for a pitcher in 13 years, with more on that later.

Saturday, June 21: Peoria Chiefs 9 at Quad Cities River Bandits 2

Carson Kelly had arguably his best offensive output this season, smacking three doubles, driving in five and leading the Chiefs to a series-winning victory.

Peoria scored six runs in the third inning. Kenny Peoples-Walls doubled and came home after singles by Ringo and Bryan. A hit batter loaded the bases for Kelly, who unloaded them with his second double of the game, a line drive into right field.

That was all the Chiefs' pitching staff needed. Blake McKnight started and tossed 5 ? innings, yielding two runs on five hits. Chris Perry and Zach Loraine combined for 3 ? hitless innings of relief.

Kelly added his final two RBI on another double in the fourth while a Peoples-Walls sac fly finished off Peoria's scoring for the night.

Sunday, June 15: Peoria Chiefs at Quad Cities River Bandits POSTPONED

More Iowa rain meant another postponed game. This one will be made up this weekend in Peoria.

Extended Stay

The rain-out of Sunday's finale against Quad Cities will be made up at some point this weekend, the Chiefs' Twitter account reports. It will turn a four-game set into a five-game series, the first five-game series Peoria has played since 2010 and fifth since 2005. Peoria took on the Clinton Lumber Kings August 28th-30th at Dozer Park and, to make up a rainout, extended the series to five games. Oddly enough, all five series since 2005 have been at Dozer Park.

Also, this game will add to an already lengthy stretch of home games for the Chiefs. 14 of Peoria's next 17 games are at Dozer.

All-Star Recap

Five of Peoria's seven All-Star reps took the field in the Midwest League's All-Star Game June 17. C.J. McElroy started for injured teammate Ronald Castillo and went 1-for-2 with two runs and a pair of walks. Carson Kelly came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth and went 0-for-2 while Juan Herrera went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run after coming on in that same frame as a pinch hitter.

On the mound, Chris Perry came on in the eighth inning, struck out a batter, walked a batter, and gave up a hit. The West had a no-hitter through seven until Perry surrendered that hit. Zach Loraine faced a pair of batters in the 9th inning and gave up a hit, the only two hits managed by the East for the game.

Peoria's other two All-Stars, Ronald Castillo and Arturo Reyes, didn't play in the game. Castillo is on the disabled list and Reyes started Peoria's first-half finale Sunday.

Doubling Up

Carson Kelly's three-double effort Saturday was one two-bagger away from tying Peoria's and the Midwest League's record in a game. Kelly's five runs batted in also were a career high.

Injury Bugged

Peoria's offense has struggled mightily this season, and injuries are playing a huge role in that. With Juan Herrera joining Castillo and Cesar Valera on the disabled list this week, 71 of the Chiefs' 301 total runs scored this season (23.5 percent) are on the disabled list. Other categories have similar percentages, such as doubles (24/101, 23.7 percent), hits (149/581, 25.6 percent) and runs batted in (76/273, 27.8 percent).

Who's Hot

Carson Kelly – After a rough May that saw him post an average below .200, Kelly has turned it on in the month of June. The Oregon native hit his way to a .311 average so far this month, and while he has yet to tally a home run, 11 of his 34 RBI came in the month. He has cut down on his strikeouts, with more walks (five) then strikeouts (four) in June. Specifically, in his last ten games, he has hit .333 with four doubles and 10 runs batted in. With the injuries to Chiefs outfielders and all the team offensive issues, getting Kelly on track at the plate would be a huge boost to the offense.

Vaughn Bryan – Bryan has been hitting himself into contention for more playing time. Over his last ten games, the 20-year-old has tallied 11 hits in his last 35 at-bats, a .314 average. The switch-hitter has scored six runs in that period and has driven in four runs, three of which came against Quad Cities on June 9. His .429 OBP in that span from the top of the order greatly helps the teammates hitting below him drive in runs.

Luis Perez – Perez has only started five games for the Chiefs since joining the team, but he collected hits in all five and currently sports a ridiculous .533 average in an albeit small sample size of 15 at-bats. Of his eight hits, three have been extra-bases, including a pair of doubles against Quad Cities Saturday. The 22-year-old has driven in a pair, tallied a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base. The outfield's injury situation hasn't been nearly as dire as the infield, but if he keeps hitting like this, Perez should have no trouble continuing to start somewhere in Peoria's lineup.

Michael Schulze – Schulze has found his way to "Who's Not" often during his 58 games in Peoria, but his last ten games have been spectacular. Since an 0-for-10 skid from June 2-8, Schulze has collected hits in exactly half of his at-bats (10-for-20) and has knocked in five to go with scoring four runs of his own. Just three of the ten hits were for extra-bases, however. Most of Schulze's time has been spent at the bottom of Peoria's order, giving him fewer chances to drive in runs. His (brief) career stats show more improvement is on the way, a benefit since his .223 average against right handers pales in comparison to his .314 average against lefties.

Who's Not

Richy Pedroza – For whatever reason, Pedroza has not been very good at the plate since joining the Chiefs. The 22-year-old hit .270 last season at Johnson City but is below .200 at .197 this year in Peoria. Over his last ten games, the switch-hitter has managed just six hits in 31 at-bats, none of which went for extra bases. With the injuries mounting in the Chiefs' infield, Pedroza will continue to get regular time at the plate and at short, but if he's unable to turn it around soon, he'll see that time decrease when/if Valera and Herrera are able to return healthy.

Arturo Reyes – Bear with me on this one. Reyes has pitched very well this season for the Chiefs, as evidenced by his all-star selection. The strikeouts are there, too, as the 22-year-old has struck out the fourth-most batters on the team. The problem lately with Reyes is consistency. Which Reyes will take the mound, the one that one-hit Wisconsin while striking out eight, or the one that went out one start later and gave up four runs? The righty has yielded four runs twice in his last four starts, but threw in a dominating performance against Burlington in between. By no means is Reyes pitching poorly. He is just not pitching consistently, and given what we have seen when he is on, it is unfortunate.

Injuries

Juan Herrera was placed on the 7-day disabled list with an ankle sprain June 21.
Ronald Castillo remains on the 7-day disabled list with an abdominal injury.
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.
Michael Holbeck remains on the 7-day DL with right forearm stiffness.

Transactions

Peoria received Rafael Medina from Johnson City June 21.

Random stat of the week

After Herrera's injury forced Peoria to shuffle defensive positions, the team was forced to bat the pitcher. Chase Brookshire took Peoria's first at-bat for a pitcher since Ted Lilly in 2010 on a rehab assignment and the first regular since Matt Vincent in April 2000. Ten Players were ejected in that 2000 game, forcing Vincent into the batting order. He would walk, score the winning run, and get the win in the game. Brookshire settled for much less, a sharply hit groundball out to first.

Peoria Chiefs Team Stats

The stats haven't changed all that much from last week, thanks to just three completed games in that time.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16   Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .250 T-4th lowest   ERA 3.57 T-5th
Runs 301 4th Lowest   Strikeouts 593 4th
OPS .673 3rd Lowest   Walks 237 5th-Fewest
Doubles 101 Fewest   HR allowed 42 7th Most
HR 33 11th   Saves 20 6th
Steals 65 T-4th Fewest        

Midwest League Western Division Standings

The second-half standings are not very helpful at this point. However, this is the first time since April 15 that the team in first place as of the publication of this recap wasn't Kane County, so there's that.

Club W L PCT GB L10^ Streak^
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 4 0 1.000 - 8-2 W4
Kane County Cougars (CHC)* 3 1 .750 1 5-5  W1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 2 1 .667 1.5  7-3  W2
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 2 2 .500 2 6-4 W1
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 2 2 .500 2 3-7 L1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 1 2 .333 2.5 3-7 L2
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 3 .250 3 4-6 L1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 4 .000 4 4-6 L4

* - first-half division winner
^ - includes games from first half

What's Next

After a day off Monday, Peoria returns home for a seven-game homestand. The Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) arrive at Dozer Park for a three-game set. Rob Kaminsky (2-1, 1.45 ERA) will toe the rubber against righty Ethan Mildren (2-4, 4.94). Peoria will stay home for a five-game series against Quad Cities before hitting the road starting next Tuesday.



Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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