Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 18

The Cardinals’ Midwest League club is dodging weather and opponents. Juan Herrera and Kevin Herget are July leaders.

The Week that Was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, July 29 to Monday, August 4.

The Peoria Chiefs had as many games suspended as wins this week. The team won just two of their six scheduled road games while rain stopped play in the final game of the series against the Timber Rattlers. Mother Nature struck again in Peoria, halting the team’s series opener against the Snappers before the first inning could be completed.

On the season, the 2-3 week dropped the team’s record to 22-19, 1.5 games behind the Timber Rattlers for third place (and the second playoff spot) in the Midwest League West and 2.5 games out of the division lead.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, July 29: Peoria Chiefs 6 at Beloit Snappers 4 (10 innings)

A pair of runs in the top of the tenth allowed the Chiefs to open the road trip with a victory.

Alex Reyes was not particularly sharp, walking four batters in just four innings. The 19-year-old allowed three runs on six hits over those four frames while striking out five.

A home run off Reyes in the bottom of the second gave the Snappers a brief lead, but the Chiefs tied it in the top of the third. Richy Pedroza singled and scored on a C.J. McElroy Jr. double.

Ronald Castillo and Rowan Wick had consecutive doubles to give the Chiefs a short-lived 2-1 lead. Beloit tied the game in the bottom of the frame, but two singles and a Juan Herrera double staked Peoria to a 4-2 lead.

The Snappers rallied to tie the game, but a throwing error with two outs allowed McElroy to reach base in the tenth. After a wild pitch, Herrera doubled him home to give the Chiefs the lead for good.

Wick went 2-for-4 with a double and a run batted in while McElroy scored three runs and picked up two hits in five at-bats.

Wednesday, July 30: Beloit Snappers 4, Peoria Chiefs 3 (11 innings)

A lack of clutch hitting doomed Peoria in game two of the series. The team went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position en route to an 11-inning defeat.

Chase Brookshire allowed three singles in the first inning, two of which came around to score and put Beloit up 2-0 early. The Chiefs tied it in the second inning after loading the bases on two walks and a single. Steve Bean grounded into a fielder’s choice but a throwing error allowed both runners to score.

Herrera knocked in a run in the fourth to give the Chiefs a lead, but Beloit rallied to tie the game. A walk, sacrifice and a single in the 11th against reliever Robert Stock ended it.

Brookshire tossed 5 1/3 innings, yielding three runs (two earned) on five hits. The lefty struck out three batters and gave up two walks.

Wick and Vaughn Bryan picked up four of Peoria’s seven hits and accounted for two of the team’s three runs.

Thursday, July 31: Beloit Snappers 11, Peoria Chiefs 4

Blake McKnight got knocked around, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits and two walks in just three innings.

Kevin Herget came on in relief and yielded one run on three hits with a pair of strikeouts in two innings. Josh Lucas was charged with three runs (two earned) in just one inning.

The Chiefs tallied three runs in the top half of the eighth inning. Michael Schulze started the frame with a single and advanced to third on a double by Bryan. McElroy and Herrera hit back-to-back singles into left field to plate Schulze and Bryan. McElroy scored later on a Ringo double play.

Ringo went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Michael Schulze picked up two hits in three at-bats from the nine spot in Peoria’s batting order.

Friday, August 1: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 5, Peoria Chiefs 1

A second inning error led to five unearned runs for the Timber Rattlers in the series opener.

In the second, Valera’s error followed by a walk put two runners on with just one out. A fielder’s choice that should have accounted for the second out on a ground ball hit to Schulze instead loaded the bases.

After a walk forced in the first run, Taylor Brennan hit his 12th home run of the season for Wisconsin into left field for a 5-0 lead. The Chiefs tallied a run on a walk and a pair of singles in the ninth inning.

Luis Perdomo pitched well, although he struggled with his control. The righty surrendered five unearned runs on just three hits in six innings. Perdomo walked five batters and struck out three.

The Chiefs managed just one hit off Wisconsin starter Taylor Williams, who struck out 11.

Saturday, August 2: Peoria Chiefs 9 at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 3

Peoria snapped a three-game skid with an offensive explosion.

Five of the team’s nine hitters had multiple hits, including Wick, who gave the Chiefs the lead in the second with a three-run home run. It was his second Chiefs home run and 16th overall this season.

Peoria added single runs in the fourth and fifth before striking for four more in the seventh. Three straight singles resulted in an RBI for Valera. Richy Pedroza doubled in two more runs and scored himself on an infield single by Bryan coupled with a bad throw.

Rob Kaminsky picked up his sixth win of the season. The lefty walked three batters and yielded three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. His six strikeouts were the most in a start since June, but he has walked 14 batters in his last five starts after issuing just 12 free passes over his first nine outings.

Jhonny Polanco and Steve Sabatino combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit total and striking out five.

Sunday, August 3: Peoria Chiefs 1 at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 1 (SUSPENDED)

The Chiefs and the Timber Rattlers will have to wait to determine who will take the series.

Peoria snagged an early 1-0 lead on a pair of singles by Ringo and Castillo. After Wick was hit by a pitch, Cesar Valera singled to bring home Ringo. Wisconsin tied it up in the sixth.

After a Herrera fielding error with two outs extended the inning, three straight singles evened up the game at 1.

Arturo Reyes tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out 10. Kyle Barraclough tossed 1 2/3 innings of hitless relief.

The game will resume Thursday, August 7 in Peoria. The Chiefs will be the road team for the first contest and the home team for the regularly scheduled game that follows.

Monday, August 3: Peoria Chiefs 1, Kane County Cougars 1 (SUSPENDED)

Yes, another suspended game. The Chiefs and the Cougars managed to get over half of an inning finished before lightening in the area forced a delay. Rain came during the delay and forced the postponement of the game. It will be finished prior to Tuesday’s contest against the Cougars.

The Chiefs will be the home team in this game. They will start with a runner on third, two outs, and Carson Kelly batting. Peoria tied the game with a double by Bryan and an infield hit by McElroy. Herrera grounded out to second to score Bryan. After Ringo struck out, the game was stopped.

Month in Review

Peoria had a rough July. The team posted a 13-15 record as their position in the standings dropped from second to fourth. The biggest issue seemed to be on the road, as the team won just six of 16 games away from Dozer Park.

Hitter of the Month – Juan Herrera

The shortstop only played in 20 of the team’s games due to injury, but there is little doubt that he was by far the team’s most effective hitter in the month of July. Herrera racked up a solid .319/.380/.391 slash line for the month while knocking in 13 runs, tied with Justin Ringo for the most of any Chiefs player last month.

The 21-year-old also had an impact on the basepaths, stealing five bases in eight attempts. While those stolen base numbers are not quite up to the level of his May tally (14 steals in 17 attempts), Herrera still leads the team in steals overall with 27 (in 40 attempts).

Pitcher of the Month – Kevin Herget

Kevin Herget had arguably the best month of any Peoria Chief, regardless of position, since Chris Perry allowed just one run the entire month of May. Herget allowed just two runs on 11 hits in July in 16 innings pitched. The righty posted a ridiculous 27:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in that time period and limited opposing hitters to just a .193 average for the month.

The 23-year-old allowed more than two hits in an appearance just one time: his final one against Beloit on the last day of the month. Since an abysmal April during which he allowed 16 runs in 12 1/3 innings, Herget has posted an ERA of 2.58 in 45 2/3 innings pitched while striking out 64 batters and walking just 16.

Innings Management

Peoria made a roster move to get a starter for Monday’s game as a way to manage the innings load of Alex Reyes. Reyes has thrown 84 1/3 innings for the Chiefs this season after logging 58 1/3 last year for Johnson City.

Chiefs manager Joe Kruzel told Dave Eminian of the Peoria Journal-Star that Rob Kaminsky is also a candidate to have a start skipped down the road. Kaminsky has tossed 77 1/3 innings for the Chiefs after throwing just 22 last year for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.

Sudden Offense

The nine runs put on the scoreboard by the Chiefs against the Timber Rattlers on Saturday were the most since they scored 10 against Burlington July 12. Peoria also had five batters collect multiple hits in that game, the most since six collected at least two hits against Clinton in an extra-inning win on June 15.

Who’s Hot

Justin Ringo – After starting off hot for the Chiefs in June, Ringo cooled off big-time in July. The 23-year-old batted a mere .223 in June, striking out 21 times in 103 at-bats and driving in just 13 runs. As the month ended, things began to improve for Ringo.

The California native has posted a .282 average (11-for-39) with a home run and five RBI since the last home stand. Two of the 11 hits have been for extra-bases. Ringo has walked three times in that same span and has even stolen a pair of bases, giving him three on the season. While Ringo is not quite at the same level as he was when he arrived in Peoria, he appears to be getting closer, which can only be a positive sign for the stretch run.

Jhonny Polanco – Polanco is another reliever who has been on his game of late from the Chiefs’ bullpen. In his last ten appearances, spanning 14 2/3 innings, Polanco has given up just four hits and one run.

The ten walks in that same span are a bit concerning, but the 22-year-old has found ways to get out of innings without the runners crossing the plate. Eight of the 10 walks have come in Polanco’s last three appearances, but since allowing 10 runs (eight earned) in the month of May, Polanco has been spectacular. The righty has not allowed more than one run in either month since.

Who’s Not

The catchers – Carson Kelly and Steve Bean have been locked in a battle behind the plate for the entire season. Kelly is still in his first season of the shift from third base while Bean has been trying to live up to his status as a first-round selection. Right now, however, neither backstop is doing much offensively.

Bean is hitting just .205 in his last ten games (39 at-bats) and has only driven in one run in that same time period. Bean has also struck out a whopping 13 times without walking once in that span.

Kelly is batting .243 over his last 10 games and hasn’t driven in a run in three weeks.

Rafael Medina – Medina is not hitting well. In his most recent 32 at-bats, the last of which came on July 31, Medina has tallied just six hits. Only one was for extra bases, but to be fair it was a home run, his first homer at any level this season.

The righty’s current average sits at just .183, nearly 100 points below the mark he put up for the GCL Cardinals last season. Medina’s average had improved every season until this one, so it is not out of the question to believe a turnaround is possible.

Blake McKnight – Blake McKnight’s last five starts have hit on both ends of the performance spectrum. In two of the five, McKnight allowed a whopping 12 runs on 17 hits in 7 2/3 innings. The righty sports a 3:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in those two starts.

However, in the other three starts, McKnight has been excellent. The 23-year-old has pitched 18 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just seven total hits while striking out 15 batters.

McKnight is not cold, despite the seven runs surrendered in his last start, but he has been ridiculously inconsistent of late.


Michael Holback remains on the 7-day DL with right forearm stiffness.

Luis Perez was remains on the 7-day DL with a sore left knee.


Josh Lucas was sent down to State College August 4 to make room for Monday’s starter Kyle Helisek, who joined Peoria from Palm Beach.

Random stat of the week

Despite not having thrown a pitch for the Midwest League team since early July, former Peoria Chiefs reliever Chris Perry is still the top reliever on the league’s strikeout list. The second highest is current Peoria Chiefs reliever Kevin Herget, who sits two strikeouts behind Perry.

Peoria Chiefs Team Stats

The numbers are a little misleading, as the team has two games this week that were not completed. While the difference those games make in the grand scheme of these stats probably will not be all that great, a decent offensive output could improve the team’s batting average.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16   Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .248 T-6th Lowest   ERA 3.40 4th
Runs 444 2nd Fewest   Strikeouts 915 5th
OPS .665 Lowest   Walks 350 T-8th
Doubles 157 T-2nd Fewest   HR allowed 54 2nd Fewest
HR 47 4th Fewest   Saves 30 6th
Steals 96 4th Fewest        

Midwest League Western Division Standings

The Chiefs may be slipping in the standings, but they have a shot to gain ground on Wisconsin and Kane County this week. After three against the Cougars, the Chiefs will play four games against the Timber Rattlers and finish a game the teams started this past weekend.

Club W L PCT GB L10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (CHC)* 25 17 .595 - 4-6 W3
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 25 18 .581 .5 7-3 L2
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 24 18 .571 1.0 6-4 W1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 22 19 .537 2.5 5-5 W1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 21 21 .500 4.0 4-6 L5
Burlington Bees (LAA)^ 19 23 .452 6.0 2-8 L8
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 18 24 .429 7.0 5-5 W5
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 14 27 .341 10.5 4-6 W1

* first-half division winner
^ first-half wild card winner

What’s Next

The Chiefs finish the first game against the Cougars Tuesday at 5 PM CT. The teams then play the second game of the series a half hour after the first game. Jen Ho Tseng (6-1, 2.56 ERA) will square off against Peoria lefty Chase Brookshire (3-5, 3.98) in the regularly-scheduled contest. Once the Cougars leave town, the Chiefs take on Wisconsin for four full games this weekend. The team will have its final scheduled off-day of the season Monday.

Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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