Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2015 Week 14

The Peoria Chiefs (44-43) hit a hot streak as they won six of seven, including six on the road. In the early going, Harrison Bader is liking Midwest League pitching.

This notebook covers Tuesday, July 7 through Monday, July 13.

7/7/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Burlington Bees 1

Behind a solid performance from righty Jack Flaherty, the Peoria Chiefs took their third in a row against the Burlington Bees. 2015 Cardinals draft picks Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong made their debuts in Single-A and both shined in their own ways.

The offense kicked things off early with both runs coming in the bottom of the second. After an Alex De Leon double to lead off the inning, Bader drove a single into left and stole second base to set up runners in scoring position for Steve Bean. The Chiefs backstop came through with a sharp liner to right that scored De Leon. Bader came in via a Luis Cruz double play to make it a 2-0 game.

Jack Flaherty cruised to his fourth win. In 5 1/3 innings, the 2014 first-rounder allowed only one run on four hits while striking out four and walking one.

Putting the tying run on, Kyle Grana shook off his two-out walk in the ninth for his ninth save with a groundout, giving the Chiefs a 2-1 victory.

7/8/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 @ Burlington Bees 1

Back-to-back homers stung the Bees in the eighth to make it back-to-back 2-1 wins as the Chiefs kicked off their six game road trip.

The Chiefs only managed two hits through the first seven innings, but they broke through in a big way. Jake Gronsky led off the eighth with his first big fly and RBI in a Chiefs uniform to knot it up at one. Luis Cruz joined the party and hit his first homer of the season to put Peoria up on top.

Matt Pearce threw a phenomenal start to keep his club in the low scoring affair to earn his fourth win. The right-hander went seven strong innings with one run on six hits and struck out four along the way.

Nick Lomascolo threw a perfect eighth inning and Cody Schumacher closed the door to earn his first save of the year.

7/9/15: Peoria Chiefs 0 @ Burlington Bees 2

Two home runs propelled the winning team once again. However, the Chiefs were on the bitter end of this one.

Jhonny Polanco made only two mistakes to the same hitter in his start of 5 1/3 innings. Burlington third baseman Zach Houchins blasted two homers, the only offensive support the Bees needed.

The Chiefs struck out a total of 11 times and couldn’t find any solutions against Bees starter Jeremy Rhoades. Chiefs third baseman Paul DeJong earned the golden sombrero as he whiffed four times.

Darren Seferina and Jhohan Acevedo both went 2-for-3.

7/10/15: Peoria Chiefs 9 @ Clinton Lumber Kings 4

An offensive showcase of nine runs on 12 hits opened up the four game set in Clinton as the Chiefs scored at least one run in each of the first six innings.

Lefty Dewin Perez earned his first win of the year with a solid performance. Perez, who has struggled this season and is coming off injury, threw a season-high outing of five innings with two runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking three.

Kenny Peoples-Walls hit his first home run of the season in the second inning to put the Chiefs up 2-1 and they didn’t look back from there.

DeJong was the star of the offense as he came back from his four strikeout game with vengeance. The third baseman went 4-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. He fell a home run shy of the cycle.

Alex De Leon had two RBI, and Jhohan Acevedo tacked on one of his own.

7/11/15: Peoria Chiefs 7 @ Clinton LumberKings 4 (F/15)

Chiefs southpaw Austin Gomber’s career-high 10 strikeouts wasn’t the pitching performance that gave the Chiefs the win in Game 2. It was catcher Luis Cruz who came up clutch out of the bullpen with two perfect innings in part of a wild 15-inning game in Clinton.

The Chiefs jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the sixth inning only to see it evaporate. After sawing the deficit in half in the sixth, the LumberKings tied it up in the eighth inning with a two-run home run against Cody Schumacher.

After a scoreless drought from the sixth to the 13th inning, Peoria broke through with three in the top of the 14th. Jake Gronsky tripled in Alex De Leon and Steve Bean with one out, and Darren Seferina finished it off to bring in Gronsky to make it 7-4.

Gomber was finished at 5 2/3 innings with one run on three hits with the addition of three walks and 10 strikeouts.

Nick Lomascolo and Kevin Alexander put in a great relief effort, combining for 5 2/3 scoreless while striking out three each.

7/12/15: Peoria Chiefs 3 @ Clinton LumberKings 0

Jack Flaherty was once again lights out in his impressive six-inning shutout with only four hits and six K’s. Flaherty improved to 5-1 on the season with the stellar showing. The LumberKings threatened with runners in scoring position just two times while Flaherty was on the mound.

Jhohan Acevedo put the Chiefs on top in the top of the second with an RBI single.

The second Chiefs run came thanks to the speedy Oscar Mercado. In the third, Mercado stole third and came around to score after the throw went into left field.

Luis Cruz’s sacrifice fly in the eighth inning tacked on an important insurance run to make it 3-0.

Dixon Llorens threw two shutout, hitless innings with three strikeouts, and Kyle Grana earned his tenth save in a shutout ninth.

7/13/15: Peoria Chiefs 7 @ Clinton LumberKings 2

The Chiefs completed the road sweep, propelled by a great offensive display including a four-run ninth that sealed the deal.

Matt Pearce took the bump for Peoria to throw seven innings with one unearned run on five hits and three punchouts. The righty earned his fifth win of the season and improved his ERA to 3.17.

Jhohan Acevedo drove in the first two Peoria runs with a two-out single in the in the second inning.

A slim two-run lead was slim no more as newcomer Paul DeJong took the first pitch he saw out of the park to lead off the ninth, making it a 4-1 Peoria lead. Nick Thompson, Steve Bean, and Luis Cruz followed up later in the inning with back-to-back-to-back RBI base knocks to extend the lead to 7-1.

Anderson Gerdel eraned the save with two innings of work in addition to one run on one hit and three strikeouts.

Who’s Hot

Harrison Bader - The 2015 third-rounder is making an immediate impact in his first week of play in Single-A. After his hot hitting with the State College Spikes, Bader has continued his tear, hitting .357 with an on-base percentage of .419.

Paul DeJong - After Danny Diekroeger’s move up to Palm Beach, DeJong’s call-up couldn’t have come at a better time. The Cardinals 2015 fourth-rounder is hitting .294 and has collected four multi-hit games while nearly hitting for the cycle on July 10 against the Clinton LumberKings, falling just a homer short.

Luis Cruz - The Peoria backstop collected a hit in five of his six games played during this week’s stretch. Among his seven hits, was a home run to go with three RBI. Cruz also earned a win in an extra inning affair this week with two perfect innings.

Who’s Not

Cody Schumacher - Schumacher had a rough 1 2/3 innings against Clinton on July 11 as he blew a save opportunity by allowing three runs on six hits, but they were the first runs the right-hander allowed since June 27. His Peoria ERA is up to 3.72.

Nick Thompson - The 22-year-old outfielder has struggled at the plate as of late. Thompson has only collected three hits in his last 26 at-bats, for a .115 batting average.

Kenny Peoples-Walls – Peoples-Walls has definitely hit a brick wall and continues to struggle swinging the bat. In his second shot at Peoria, the 21-year-old outfielder currently sits at a .167 batting average, a .250 on-base percentage, and a .278 slugging percentage.

Midwest League Western Division Second Half Standings

Club W L PCT  GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (ARI) 16 3 .842 - 7-1 9-2 8-2 W2
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 11 8 .579 5.0 4-4 7-4 6-4 L2
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 11 8 .579 5.0 4-4 7-4 8-2 W4
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)* 11 8 .579 5.0 6-5 5-3 5-5 L1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 8 10 .444 7.5 4-3 4-7 4-6 W2
Burlington Bees (LAA) 7 12 .368 9.0 5-6 2-6 3-7 W1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 6 12 .333 9.5 5-6 1-6 4-6 L2
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 5 14 .263 11.0 2-9 3-5 2-8 L5
* first-half division winner                

Transactions Overview

Paul DeJong’s addition is what the Chiefs needed at the hot corner as Diekroeger had provided a great bat and glove at third. Harrison Bader adds great depth to the outfield that Peoria desperately needed.

With Robby Rowland heading to Palm Beach, the back of the bullpen has been a tad bit shaky. The Chiefs need to fill the role of setup/backup closer Rowland played in the bullpen. Who knows? Maybe, we could see a conversion from catcher to pitcher for Luis Cruz.

Full Transaction List

7/7/15: SS Andrew Sohn assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from Peoria Chiefs.
7/7/15: Paul DeJong assigned to Peoria Chiefs from Johnson City Cardinals.
7/7/15: Harrison Bader assigned to Peoria Chiefs from State College Spikes.
7/11/15: RHP Robby Rowland assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from Peoria Chiefs.
7/11/15: Peoria Chiefs placed RHP Luis Perdomo on the temporarily inactive list to participate in the MLB Futures Game.

Stat of the Week

Luis Cruz is the first position player to get a win for the Chiefs since Kenny Socorro in Kane County on May 20, 2012.

What’s Next

The Chiefs head home for a brief three-game set starting Wednesday with the Beloit Snappers and head out to Burlington for three. The Chiefs are then back for a six-game homestand starting on July 21 with three against Clinton and three against Kane County.

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