Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 21

The Cardinals’ Midwest League club is in a three-way fight for a wild card spot. Kyle Barraclough is shining as closer.

The Week that Was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, August 19 through Monday, August 25.

In the midst of a playoff race, you cannot afford to have a down week. The Peoria Chiefs had a golden chance to even the wild card race this past weekend against the Timber Rattlers, but a loss in the final contest dropped them two games back and handed Wisconsin the tiebreaker.

The Chiefs split their six games this week, going 2-1 against Wisconsin after going 1-1 in a pair of games against the Snappers. Thanks to a rainout Monday night, the Chiefs drop another spot in the standings and now trail Quad Cities by a half game and Wisconsin by 2.5 games for the final wild card spot.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, August 19: Beloit Snappers 3 at Peoria Chiefs 0

There comes a point when teams on lengthy losing streaks have to look at the positives. Sure, the Chiefs were beaten for the sixth straight game and managed just three singles, but Chase Brookshire dominated.

Brookshire tossed a career-high eight innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) on six hits. The lefty struck out a career-high eight batters and walked just one.

Matt Stalcup, however, was better, tossing a complete-game three-hit shutout and striking out eight Chiefs. Stalcup did not walk a batter.

The game was scoreless until the fifth, when a one-out single turned into a runner on second when McElroy misplayed the ball in center. Another single and a sac fly gave Beloit the only run they would need, but they added a home run in the fourth and another run on a pair of singles and a stolen base in the ninth anyway.

The Chiefs were shut out for the 12th time in 2014 and the complete game shutout was the second one of the season tossed against Peoria, the other occurring on May 30th against Burlington.

Wednesday, August 20: Peoria Chiefs 7, Beloit Snappers 4

A six-run fourth inning sparked the Chiefs to their first win in a week.

Juan Herrera got things started in the first for Peoria, lining a 2-0 fastball into left field for his second home run of the season. It was a short-lived lead, however, as a walk, a wild pitch, and a single tied the game in the second.

The Chiefs exploded offensively in the fourth. Herrera led off by being hit with a pitch and Justin Ringo singled. Carson Kelly bunted them over, allowing Herrera to score on a single by Wick. Steve Bean then singled in Ringo, and Luis Perez launched his third home run of the season to make it 6-1 Chiefs.

Michael Schulze singled, advanced to third on a double by McElroy and scored on a sac fly by Richy Pedroza. McElroy was thrown out at third to end the inning.

The Snappers added two runs in the fifth and one in the fourth, all charged to starter Luis Perdomo, who tossed five innings, yielding five hits and two walks and striking out six.

Jhonny Polanco added three perfect innings in relief with five strikeouts. The Chiefs as a team struck out 14 Snappers, and every starting hitter for Beloit struck out at least once.

Herrera went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Thursday, August 21: Peoria Chiefs 3, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 1

Rob Kaminsky returned to the rotation with his best pitching performance in the last three weeks, leading the Chiefs to a much-needed victory over Wisconsin.

Kaminsky tossed six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out eight. The 19-year-old picked up his seventh win of the season.

Peoria’s offense got things started in the second inning. Rowan Wick lined a ball off the wall in center field that initially was ruled a home run. After the umpires met, they reversed the call and placed Wick at third. He promptly scored on a Luis Perez groundout.

McElroy led off Peoria’s fifth inning with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice by Pedroza. Ringo singled him home before Ronald Castillo reached base on an error. Wick hit another fly ball to center that turned into an RBI double when the center fielder lost the ball.

Blake McKnight pitched well in relief, allowing one hit in 1 2/3 innings. Kyle Barraclough picked up the save by striking out the last batter of the game.

Friday, August 22: Peoria Chiefs 3, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2

Wick lined a ball into left-center field to plate Schulze and bring the Chiefs to within one game in the wild card race.

Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Chiefs scratched a run across the plate against rehabbing Milwaukee Brewer Wei-Chung Wang. Pedroza walked with one out and went first-to-third on a wild pitch. Carson Kelly bounced a single over the drawn-in infield to tie the game.

An unearned run in the fifth inning set up Wick’s heroics. McElroy singled to left field and was sacrificed to second by Pedroza. Kelly walked to put two runners on base. Ringo loaded the bases with a single, causing manager Joe Kruzel to pinch-run for Kelly at second. Castillo’s sac fly tied the game before Wick’s smash ended it.

Arturo Reyes tossed six innings of six-hit, two run baseball with three walks and seven strikeouts. Jacob Booden had a scoreless outing with two strikeouts while Robert Stock earned the win.

Saturday, August 23: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 11 at Peoria Chiefs 7 (11 innings)

Tempers flared on both sides of the diamond, but a four-run 11th inning dropped the Chiefs to two games back in the wild card race with just nine games left.

The Chiefs rallied from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game in the fourth. McElroy, Pedroza and Ringo singled to load the bases. Kelly singled in McElroy, Wick doubled home a pair and Castillo tied it with a single.

The first ejection came in the fifth. After two runners reached base, Sthervin Matos lined a ball to left field that was initially ruled a two-run double. After Joe Kruzel argued with the umpire, the call was overturned. Wisconsin Manager Matt Erickson was ejected.

The teams battled to a 7-7 tie until the 11th. A leadoff double followed by an infield single put runners on 1st and 3rd. Another single gave Wisconsin the lead. The Timber Rattlers led 10-7 when Kruzel went out to argue a play at the plate that went Wisconsin’s way. Kruzel was ejected for the third time this season.

Castillo went 3-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI. Starter Kyle Helisek got knocked around to the tune of five earned runs (six total) on six hits in four innings. Stock allowed all four runs in the 11th to take the loss.

Sunday, August 24: Clinton Lumber Kings 4, Peoria Chiefs 3

A literal walk-off by the LumberKings capped off a three-run comeback.

Peoria led 3-1 after six innings. The Chiefs scored their first run in the first inning after Luis Perez doubled with one out. Ringo reached base via a hit by pitch and Castillo singled to center. Perez was thrown out at home for the second out. Bean reached on an error by the first baseman, scoring Ringo.

Two more runs crossed the plate in the sixth. Castillo smacked his sixth home run of the season to left field and back-to-back singles put two on with one out. Ronnierd Garcia grounded out, advancing the runners to 2nd and 3rd, and a wild pitch brought home the Chiefs’ final run.

Polanco entered the game in the 7th for Peoria and walked the first batter he faced. A single and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position, and another single plated both runs and tied the game at 3.

Booden pitched a 1-2-3 eighth but ran into trouble in the 9th. Two singles and an intentional walk loaded the bases for the free pass that ended the game.

Alex Reyes struck out nine batters in his six innings of work, yielding one run in the process. The nine strikeouts gave him 129 on the season, putting him in the top 25 all-time for single season strikeouts in Chiefs history.

Monday, August 25: Peoria Chiefs at Clinton LumberKings - POSTPONED

Wet grounds delayed the second game of the series with the LumberKings. A storm flooded the field and the tarp was not down. It will be made up as part of a pair of seven inning games Tuesday.

Stolen Base Star

The Chiefs’ primary offensive threat seems to be the stolen base. The team has swiped 111 bases on the season, 39 of which belong to outfielder C.J. McElroy Jr. McElroy is one stolen base shy of entering the top ten for steals in a season in Chiefs history.

Welcome Home

Vernon Hills, Illinois native and Bradley University 2012 graduate Jacob Booden became the first Bradley Brave to play for the Peoria Chiefs when he took the mound for the Chiefs last week. Coincidentally, Booden received word he would be returning to his hometown a few days after his birthday.

Fall League Note

Rosters for the Arizona Fall League will be announced Tuesday at 3 PM CST. Peoria Chiefs pitching coach Jason Simontacchi will be the pitching coach for the Peoria Javelinas, who will be sourced with players from the Cardinals farm system and four other organizations.

Who’s Hot

Kyle Barraclough - Barraclough has been on fire since returning to the Chiefs. In his last ten appearances, the 24-year-old reliever has allowed just one earned run on seven hits in his last ten innings. While the seven walks are a bit of an issue, especially since he has been called upon as the team’s closer of late, the 16 strikeouts are excellent. In his last home appearance against the Timber Rattlers on Saturday, Barraclough struck out four batters in 1 2/3 innings pitched and registered fastballs from 93 to 96 miles per hour.

Chase Brookshire - Brookshire rebounded in a big way after giving up five earned runs on 11 hits against the Bees. Eight strong innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts will go a long way to rebuilding his confidence and getting him back to being the pitcher who allowed a total of four runs over 18 2/3 innings in the three starts prior.

Rob Kaminsky - Kaminsky has turned it on of late. After struggling with his command for the better part of July and his first start in August, the 19-year-old has walked just two batters over his last 18 innings pitched. In that same time, he has allowed just three total runs after giving up eight runs in his previous five starts. Kaminsky has had an excellent season for the Chiefs, earning seven wins and posting a ridiculous 1.81 ERA. At this point, it would appear he is a lock for starter of the year unless someone makes a late run.

Rowan Wick - Temper your expectations a bit here. Wick is not exactly tearing the cover off the ball; his average still sits below the Mendoza line at .195 for the Chiefs this season. However, just ten days ago, that average was in the low .160s. Since then, Wick has picked up at least one hit in seven of eight games entering last night’s postponement, including two multi-hit games last week. The 21-year-old has picked up nine hits in his last 33 at-bats and, more importantly, has contributed to nine total runs. His five RBI have all came in the last four games and three of his four runs scored have occurred in that same period. Unfortunately, he is still striking out at an alarming rate. Wick has whiffed 13 times in his last ten games, giving him an ugly 50:8 strikeout to walk ratio in 113 Chiefs at-bats.

Justin Ringo - Ringo is finally showing signs of breaking out of a recent slump. The 23-year-old has raised his batting average seven points in his last ten games thanks to an 11-for-36 stretch at the plate. In that same time period, Ringo has scored six times and knocked in three runners. The California native has been one of Peoria’s more consistent hitters this season, when healthy. It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, his stats suffer with the hot-hitting Vaughn Bryan on the disabled list.

Who’s Not

Kyle Helisek - Helisek has struggled over his last three starts. In 15 2/3 innings, the 24-year-old has allowed a total of 13 runs on 23 hits and eight walks. Those three starts are the only starts Helisek has with the Chiefs, and if it were not for the fact that the Chiefs have very few options in the rotation at this moment, he would likely find himself in the bullpen, where he has allowed a run on two hits in two innings.

Luis Perdomo - Perdomo, like Helisek, has struggled over his last three starts, but not to the same extent. The 21-year-old has allowed 10 runs on 19 hits and four walks. Perdomo has not really done too much with the Chiefs this year, pitching to the tune of a 3-4 record with a 4.50 earned run average in 50 innings. He has walked 20 batters in that time frame and opposing teams are hitting .251 against him.

Michael Schulze - Roster changes forced the Chiefs to include Schulze in their lineup for a while. Luckily for the team, they no longer have to do that. Schulze is just two for his last 25 with three runs scored, amounting to a .080 average. His average for the season has dropped all the way down to .230 and with Herrera now roaming the infield for Palm Beach, the pressure is on for the 23-year-old to start producing at the plate.

Luis Perez - As hot as the outfielder was at the plate before his injury, you wouldn’t know it now. Perez was sporting a .308 average at the start of his stint on the disabled list. Now, six games and nearly a month later, his average has dropped 38 points to .270. In the six games since his activation, Perez has just three hits in 22 at-bats and eight strikeouts. The 23-year-old has not drawn a walk in that span either, forcing Kruzel to drop him in the order and use Pedroza in the #2 spot.

Injuries

Michael Holback remains on the 7-day DL with right forearm stiffness.
Zach Loraine remains on the 7-day DL with a shoulder injury.
Vaughn Bryan was placed on the 7-day DL Aug. 19 with a right oblique strain.

Transactions

Peoria activated Luis Perez from the 7-day DL August 19.
Juan Herrera was promoted to Palm Beach from Peoria August 21.
Steve Sabatino was promoted to Palm Beach from Peoria August 22 and Ronnierd Garcia rejoined the Chiefs from State College that day.

Random stat of the week

Peoria’s 3-2 victory over Wisconsin Thursday was the team’s 19th victory in its final at-bat and sixth walk off of the season. Three of the six walk-offs came against Wisconsin, giving the Chiefs 13 against the Timber Rattlers at Dozer Park, the most of any opposing team.

Peoria Chiefs Team Stats

At this point in the season, it is not hard to figure out Peoria’s strength. It has not changed since June, really. The Chiefs depend on their starters to get through games giving up as few runs as possible, because the odds of the offense becoming competent enough to pull off a comeback are slim.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16   Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .244 4th-lowest   ERA 3.53 T-4th
Runs 515 2nd-fewest   Strikeouts 1091 4th
OPS .658 Lowest   Walks 413 8th
Doubles 191 Fewest   HR allowed 65 T-2nd
HR 56 4th-fewest   Saves 37 6th
Steals 111 6th-lowest        

Midwest League Western Division Standings

A rough losing streak last week dropped the Chiefs a spot in the standings. With the regular season just a week away from ending, Peoria needs to go on a run to make it to the postseason.

Club W L PCT GB L10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (CHC)* 42 21 .667 - 9-1 W1
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 39 24 .619 3.0 7-3 L2
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 33 30 .524 9.0 4-6 W1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 31 32 .492 11.0 6-4 W3
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 30 32 .484 11.5 3-7 l2
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 27 35 .435 14.5 4-6 W1
Burlington Bees (LAA)^ 27 36 .429 15.0 2-8 L1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 22 40 .355 19.5 4-6 L1

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

What’s Next

The Chiefs have a doubleheader Tuesday night against the Clinton LumberKings (SEA). While the Chiefs have not announced the second starter of this writing, Luis Perdomo (3-4, 4.50 ERA) is slated to take the hill Tuesday. Rob Kaminsky (7-2, 1.81) is likely to follow. The Chiefs return home for their final home series of the season against the Snappers Wednesday before hitting the road against Kane County to close out the regular season.



Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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