Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 22

The Cardinals’ Midwest League club was eliminated from the playoff race on the final day of the season. Richy Pedroza came on offensively as the season drew to a close.

The Week that Was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, August 26 through Monday, September 1.

The Peoria Chiefs fought hard, but ended up a game short in the playoff race. A 5-3 week was not enough to make up the three games against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, leaving the Chiefs sitting in fourth place in the Midwest League’s Western Division at season’s end.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, August 26: Clinton Lumber Kings 7, Peoria Chiefs 5 (Game 1, 7 innings)

Chiefs starting pitcher Luis Perdomo was shelled in his 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits.

Blake McKnight was not much better in relief, allowing two runs on three hits in just 1 2/3 innings of work.

Clinton scored runs in four consecutive innings from the second through the fifth, including three in the second on a solo home run by Joseph DeCarlo and a two-run home run by Wilton Martinez.

The Chiefs had put up a pair of runs in the top of the frame thanks to back-to-back singles to start the inning by Carson Kelly and Steve Bean. A sac bunt advanced both of them, allowing Schulze to single home Kelly and McElroy to score Bean on a ground out.

Peoria could not have gotten a much better game from Justin Ringo. The 23-year-old went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored, giving him half of the team’s total hits.

Tuesday, August 26: Peoria Chiefs 7 at Clinton LumberKings 0 (Game 2, 7 innings)

Rob Kaminsky dominated the LumberKings in game two, tossing six shutout innings while allowing just four hits and a pair of walks.

The Chiefs offense got going early and did not let up. Castillo walked to lead off the second and advanced to third on a double by Rowan Wick. Wick and Castillo came around to score on a single by Ronnierd Garcia to make it 2-0 Chiefs.

Luis Perez smacked his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot into left center, to lead off the fourth inning. Castillo reached first on a dropped third strike in the seventh, and back-to-back singles by Wick and Garcia set up a bases-clearing triple by Pedroza to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.

Kyle Barraclough tossed a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 1.00 on the season. Pedroza picked up three of Peoria’s 11 hits from the eight spot in the lineup.

Wednesday, August 27: Peoria Chiefs 4, Beloit Snappers 2

Wick finished a triple shy of the cycle to lead the Chiefs to a much-needed victory over the last-place Snappers.

Wick smashed a second-inning pitch out of the ballpark and into the next block, scoring Carson Kelly and giving the Chiefs a 2-0 lead.

The Chiefs dented the dish again in the fourth. Wick singled and scored on a double by Steve Bean, pushing Peoria’s lead to 3-0.

After the Snappers put a run on the board in the fifth, the Chiefs struck again in the sixth. Wick doubled into right field, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on a ground ball to third.

Arturo Reyes tossed 4 2/3 innings and gave up one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out three. Tyler Bray earned the win by throwing 2 1/3 innings and allowing one run. Barraclough picked up his ninth save of the season.

Wick had three of Peoria’s eight hits while Ringo collected two in four at-bats.

Thursday, August 28: Peoria Chiefs vs. Beloit Snappers POSTPONED

Heavy rain, lightning and thunder forced game two to be postponed. It was made up as part of a pair of seven-inning games on Friday.

Friday, August 29: Peoria Chiefs 10, Beloit Snappers 4 (Game 1, 7 innings)

The Chiefs’ offense sat through an hour-long rain delay in the first game of the doubleheader, but the rain did little to dampen their bats.

Peoria jumped on Snappers starter Lou Trevino early, scoring all ten runs in the first three innings. McElroy singled and stole second in the first before Ringo doubled him home. Wick singled home McElroy for a 2-0 lead.

In the second, Pedroza singled and Schulze doubled to lead off the frame. Bryan singled, scoring Pedroza, and McElroy followed suit by reaching on a throwing error allowing Schulze to score. McElroy stole second again and both he and Bryan scored on a single by Castillo.

Four more Chiefs crossed the plate in the third. Bean singled, Medina doubled and Pedroza tripled both of them in. Schulze was hit with a pitch but took second on a groundout by Bryan that scored Pedroza to make it 9-1 Chiefs. Ringo’s single gave Peoria their tenth and final run.

Chase Brookshire started for Peoria but did not get the win, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Every Peoria position player had at least one hit.

Friday, August 29: Beloit Snappers 7 at Peoria Chiefs 2 (Game 2, 7 Innings)

If the hour-long delay for game one was not bad enough, game two was worse. A 2 hour, 8 minute delay forced a 10:53 CST first pitch and the long night ended with a loss.

Kyle Helisek struggled throwing strikes, walking three batters in four innings while surrendering four hits and four runs (two earned). Blake McKnight and Jacob Booden combined to allow three more runs on five hits in three innings of work, although Booden did strike out the side in the 7th.

Beloit led 4-0 entering the fourth inning. Castillo singled and Wick walked to put two on for Garcia, who doubled to score both runners.

The Chiefs managed just five hits. Castillo went 2-for-3 with a run scored while Garcia, Perez and McElroy each picked up a hit.

Saturday, August 30: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Kane County Cougars 2

The Chiefs earned a much-needed victory behind Ringo’s three-RBI night, cutting their deficit in the wild card race to one game with two remaining.

Ringo and the Chiefs got a pair of runs on the board in the third. Medina and Bryan singled with two outs and McElroy loaded the bases after getting hit with a pitch. That set up Ringo to single home two runs.

In the eighth, Ringo launched his eighth home run of the season, giving Peoria a 3-1 lead. The Chiefs scored a fourth run after Castillo singled, Wick doubled, Bean walked to load the bases and Medina hit a sac fly to center.

Barraclough allowed an unearned run in the ninth, but still recorded his 10th save of the season. Alex Reyes earned his seventh win by tossing 6 2/3 innings of seven hit, one-run baseball while striking out eight.

Pedroza and Ringo paced the Chiefs with two hits apiece while Ringo’s three RBI give him 45 on the season, third among active Chiefs players behind Castillo and Carson Kelly.

Sunday, August 31: Kane County Cougars 9, Peoria Chiefs 2

Luis Perdomo was rocked again, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits in just 3 1/3 innings pitched.

It did not get any better from there for the Chiefs, as reliever Blake McKnight gave up four more runs on two hits and a pair of walks in just one-third of an inning.

Luis Perez launched his fifth home run in the second to tie the game at 1. The Chiefs even managed to take a brief lead. Ringo and Wick walked in the fourth. Carson Kelly lined a single to left, scoring Ringo and making it 2-1. Perdomo then gave up three runs in the bottom of the frame.

The Chiefs managed just three hits, one apiece from Perez, Kelly and Castillo.

Monday, August 25: Peoria Chiefs 6 at Kane County Cougars 5 (12 innings)

The Chiefs wrapped up the 2014 season with a come-from-behind victory against the Cougars.

Down 3-0 after the first, the Chiefs got single runs in the third and fifth to cut the lead to 4-2 before evening the score in the 7th. Richy Pedroza launched his first home run to cut the lead to one. Vaughn Bryan single, stole second, moved to third on an error and scored on a sac fly by Perez.

The Chiefs had a brief lead in the eighth on a Rowan Wick home run, but Kane County tied it in the bottom of the frame to force extras.

In the 12th, Bryan walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a bunt. Ringo’s single moved him to third where he scored on a wild pitch.

Rob Kaminsky surrendered three earned runs on five hits in a no-decision. Kyle Helisek got his second win by allowing just two hits and two walks in three scoreless relief innings.

End-of-year stat wrap

On offense, C.J. McElroy swiped 41 bases, earning him a spot in the top ten stolen base seasons in Chiefs’ history. McElroy also earned the honor of his 16th hit-by-pitch this season, tying him for fourth-most in single-season history.

The 555 runs scored by Peoria during the 2014 season were the fewest scored by the team since 1995. The team grounded into 111 double plays, two shy of the team’s 2005 record.

The 1,146 strikeouts tallied by Peoria’s pitching staff broke the team’s strikeout record, set last season at 1,112. Alex Reyes fanned 137 of those 1,146, placing him in the top 15 all-time among Chiefs pitchers. The strikeout total was the highest by any Chief since 1996.

The Chiefs finished the season 41-28 at home and 14-8 in doubleheaders.

Who’s Hot

Jhonny Polanco - Polanco struggled early in Peoria, but quickly turned himself into one of the team’s more reliable relievers. After posting a whopping 5.14 ERA in May, Polanco was sparkling the rest of the season, allowing five runs on 23 hits in 33 innings pitched, good for a 1.36 ERA. After the promotions of bullpen arms Chris Perry and Steve Sabatino, someone needed to be reliable in the Peoria ‘pen. Polanco became that someone, especially against right-handed batters. Righties hit just .180 off the 22-year-old and struck out 43 times.

Alex Reyes - Reyes had the strikeout pitch working all season for the Chiefs, but his last ten games pitched were worthy of special praise. On the season, Reyes whiffed 137 batters in 109 innings. In his last ten starts, dating back to June 26, Reyes struck out 73 of those 137 batters while walking just 24. In three of those 10 games, Reyes struck out double-digit batters and the 20-year-old fanned at least seven batters in a game six times in that span. The Chiefs’ defense was a little off at times this season, but having a pitcher like Reyes who was able to get outs on his own greatly helped the team’s cause.

Richy Pedroza - The smallest player on the team wielded the biggest bat over the last ten games of the season. Pedroza hit a whopping .343 in the team’s final ten contests, scored seven runs and knocked in six of his own. The RBI came in spurts, as he only had at least one in three contests, but the hitting prowess displayed was able to raise his average from .216 on August 26 to .239 as play finished for the season. Pedroza may only be listed at 5’6”, but there was no bigger producer for the Chiefs as they made their final playoff push.

Ronald Castillo - Castillo was one of the few other Chiefs players to do anything offensively over the last few games. The 22-year-old hit .306, picking up 11 hits in 36 at-bats while scoring six times. He also knocked in seven runs, but none of those came in the team’s last four games as they were fighting with Wisconsin for the final playoff spot. Castillo did strike out 10 times, but in a career that has seen him whiff almost 200 times in 950 at-bats, that is not that much of a surprise.

Who’s Not

Blake McKnight - McKnight got bumped from the starting rotation for a reason. He was not pitching well, having given up 11 runs over his previous eight innings. The team hoped the move to the bullpen would help the 23-year-old, but unfortunately, as the year wound down, McKnight’s ERA jumped up.

In his last three games, all relief appearances, McKnight allowed five total runs in 3 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out just one batter in that same span while walking two. The Missouri native struggled big-time in April and May but turned it on in June, posting a 2.20 ERA in five starts. Since, McKnight is 1-3 with a 6.72 ERA.

Ronnierd Garcia - Garcia never got comfortable at the plate in Peoria. The 21-year-old hit just .191 in his first season with the Chiefs, 40 points lower than the mark he placed during his time with the State College Spikes. Garcia did not hit for much power with the Chiefs, not surprising since he has just 13 home runs in his five-year professional career, and he was thrown out trying to steal three times this season in three attempts. On the bright side, Garcia showed a keen eye at the plate, striking out just four times in 47 at-bats. However, he did not walk all that much, earning just one free pass with Peoria.

C.J. McElroy Jr. - McElroy was not the same after injury placed him on the disabled list in August. The 21-year-old hit just .139 in the team’s final ten games and scored just three runs. He was also thrown out stealing a whopping 18 times in 59 tries this season, by far the most attempts in his young career for one season. The struggles as the season wound down could also be attributed to the amount of at-bats McElroy had. The Texan took 490 at-bats this season and played in 130 games, almost double the at-bats and over twice as many games he had played in any season prior.

Injuries

P Michael Holback remains on the 7-day DL with right forearm stiffness.
P Zach Loraine remains on the 7-day DL with a shoulder injury.

Transactions

OF Vaughn Bryan was activated from the 7-day DL August 27.

Random stat of the week

Richy Pedroza’s home run in the season finale against Kane County was Peoria’s 62nd home run this season, one more than the team hit in 2013. More importantly, it was Pedroza’s first career homer in 375 professional at-bats.

Peoria Chiefs Team Stats

As was the case the entire season, the Chiefs were carried by the pitching. When the pitching struggled, as it always does at some point, the offense was not able to pick it up. When the pitching did not struggle, the Chiefs offense was often able to put up enough runs to scratch out a win.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16   Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .246 5th lowest   ERA 3.53 6th
Runs 555 4th fewest   Strikeouts 1146 4th
OPS .663 T-2nd lowest   Walks 436 9th
Doubles 206 2nd fewest   HR allowed 68 2nd-fewest
HR 62 T-2nd fewest   Saves 39 T-5th
Steals 115 11th        

Final Midwest League Western Division Standings – second half

Peoria finished just one game out of a playoff spot in the second half after a similar fate befell the team in the first half.

Club W L PCT GB L10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (CHC)* 46 24 .657 - 6-4 L1
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN)** 42 28 .600 4.0 5-5 W1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL)^^ 36 34 .514 10.0 5-5 W1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 35 35 .500 11.0 5-5 W1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 35 35 .500 11.0 7-3 L1
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 31 39 .443 15.0 5-5 L1
Burlington Bees (LAA)^ 30 40 .429 16.0 4-6 W1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 25 44 .362 20.5 4-6 W1

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

What’s Next

Look for four articles over the next month recapping the Chiefs season and naming the team’s top starter, reliever, and position player.



Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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