Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2015 Week 16

The Peoria Chiefs’ six-game homestand turned out to be an eventful one with an MLB rehab start, a combined no-hitter, a come-from-behind walkoff, a Midwest League record, and a sweep against the Kane County Cougars, the league’s best second-half team. In part of the exciting game at Dozer Park, the Chiefs rounded up a 5-1 record during the week as they keep on rolling with an 18-6 record in July.

This notebook covers Tuesday, July 21 through Monday, July 27.

7/21/15: Peoria Chiefs 5 vs. Clinton Lumber Kings 7 (F/10)

After a rocky start from Luis Perdomo, the Chiefs climbed their way back to send it into extras. However, it just wasn’t enough as they fell to Clinton in the series opener.

Harrison Bader, who went 2-for-5 on the day, put Peoria on the board in the bottom of the first with a two-run double. Bader sat at third for the rest of the half inning as the heart of the order couldn’t bring him in.

Bader’s two-run base knock turned out to be Peoria’s only hit with runners in scoring position as they went 1-for-13 on the evening.

The 2-0 Peoria lead did not last for even a full inning with the Clinton bats bringing in five runs against Luis Perdomo. The righty finished with five runs, four earned, on nine hits with three K’s and one walk through six innings.

The Chiefs rallied back in the bottom of the seventh with heads up baserunning to make it a 5-4 ballgame. Andrew Sohn stole home on a wild double steal when the throw went down to second.

Brian O’Keefe tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth.

After an excellent ninth inning, Dixon Llorens came back in the tenth, but errors paved the way for Clinton to knock in two for the 7-5 victory.

7/22/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Clinton LumberKings 0

A great start from Dewin Perez led the Chiefs on to a win as they shut out Clinton. The southpaw tossed a season-high 5 1/3 shutout innings on three hits with four strikeouts to go 2-3 in 2015.

The Chiefs broke through for their first hit in the fourth inning and crossed the plate twice.

Harrison Bader singled in Oscar Mercado to make it 1-0, and Luis Cruz’s sacrifice fly tacked on the second run, as that was all the Chiefs needed.

Nick Lomascolo pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief with no hits allowed and six strikeouts. Kyle Grana earned his 14th save of the season with two punchouts in the ninth.

7/23/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Clinton LumberKings 0

With a little help from the bullpen, a successful rehabilitation start for Jaime Garcia turned into a combined no-hitter for the Peoria Chiefs. The pitching staff faced just one over the minimum as a hit batsman turned out to be Clinton’s only baserunner.

The Cardinals lefty went five near-perfect innings with six strikeouts. Garcia was limited to approximately 60 pitches and ran through the LumberKings lineup swimmingly.

Steve Sabatino entered the game for Garcia in the sixth and pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings with two K’s.

With the game still scoreless through seven, the Chiefs took the lead in the bottom of the eighth. After leading off with a double and moving to third, Andrew Sohn scored on a wild pitch. Oscar Mercado singled in Jhohan Acevedo to add a huge insurance run for a 2-0 lead.

Cody Schumacher earned the win with his 1 2/3 innings to preserve the no-hitter and ended the game with an easy groundout to first baseman Alex De Leon.

7/24/15: Peoria Chiefs 8 vs. Kane County Cougars 5

A five-run first propelled the Peoria Chiefs to a win in a matchup between the MWL Western Division’s two best squads. The Chiefs didn’t look back following their explosive start and carried the lead throughout the game.

Oscar Mercado gave Cougars pitcher Markus Solbach an abrupt welcome, blasting the first pitch he saw out of the park for his third home run of the year. Nick Thompson added an RBI single and he came across with Alex De Leon via a Brian O’Keefe double. Kenny Peoples-Walls’ sacrifice fly made it a 5-0 game.

The lead grew to seven for Peoria thanks to a two-run single from Andrew Sohn in the bottom of the third.

A 7-0 lead suddenly turned into a 7-5 game as Kane County rallied. However, a key insurance run for the Chiefs in the bottom of the eighth extended the lead to three.

Austin Gomber went six innings with five runs on six hits while striking out five and walking one. The Peoria lefty settled in quickly throughout the first four innings, but ran into trouble in the last two frames as he allowed two big flies.

Jhonny Polanco relieved Gomber with 1 2/3 shutout innings with a hit and a walk, and Kyle Grana was able hold on for the four-out save.

The Chiefs had a great day with runners in scoring position, going 5-for-10 in the contest.

7/25/15: Peoria Chiefs 3 vs. Kane County Cougars 2

Late game heroics brought the Chiefs to an exciting come-from-behind victory to walk off against the Cougars.

Jack Flaherty tossed a solid outing of 6 2/3 innings with two runs on five hits while striking out three. Flaherty’s sole mistake came in the top of the fifth when Kane County scored two against the Peoria starter.

While one run down, Chiefs reliever Nick Frey kept Peoria in the game with a perfect 2 1/3 innings of work while striking out three.

“Better late than never” seemed to be the mentality for Chiefs bats to ignite the ninth-inning rally.

With two outs and their backs against the wall, Alex De Leon kept the game alive with a double down the left field line and Jake Gronsky entered as a pinch runner for De Leon. Nick Thompson followed up with a double in the right-center field gap to tie the game up. After Harrison Bader walked, Brian O’Keefe smacked the first pitch he saw nearly out of the park and out the wall in center to give the Chiefs an exciting comeback win.

7/26/15: Peoria Chiefs 4 vs. Kane County Cougars 0

A Midwest League record set and a sweep for the Chiefs capped off a dominant homestand, bringing Peoria within two of the division lead.

Matt Pearce rolled on to another great start with a career-high eight innings of shutout ball with six hits and three K’s. Pearce’s outing marked a new Midwest League record, as he had not allowed a walk through 46 1/3 innings, with the previous record 45 innings set in 1973.

The offensive support came from big hits by Alex De Leon and Kenny Peoples-Walls. In the fifth inning, De Leon cleared the bases with a three-run double that came just mere inches from being a grand slam. Following him in the next frame, Peoples-Walls knocked out the first pitch he saw for his fourth home run of the season.

Dixon Llorens pitched a perfect ninth inning to complete the sweep.

Who’s Hot

Brian O’Keefe – The young backstop is making a big name for himself in the Peoria lineup. In just seven games, O’Keefe is hitting at .333 with a home run, 6 RBI, and he has catching a no-hitter and hitting a walk-off under his belt already.

Kyle Grana – The Chiefs closer may only have 15 saves on the season, but thanks to this second-half spark, more and more chances are coming his way. Grana has yet to blow a save this season and also has an ERA of 0.68 through 39 2/3 innings while striking out 48.

Andrew Sohn – The utility infielder currently holds a 12-game hitting streak after coming back from Palm Beach, highlighted by two multi-hit games and a three-RBI game.

Top Prospect Lookout

Harrison Bader – After starting the week with three hits in two games, Bader has only collected one hit through his last 14 at-bats. Bader’s average has dipped from .353 to .269 through his last 10 games.

Paul DeJong – In the two hole, the third baseman has kept his numbers consistent with an OBP of .375 and an OPS of .753.

Oscar Mercado – The 2013 second-rounder has hit safely in eight of his last ten games and has done an excellent job filling in for Darren Seferina in the leadoff spot. Mercado has been aggressive at the plate and has chased after the first strike in his at-bats, which paid off as he led off with a homer on July 24. However, the throwing errors continue with the shortstop with 30 total miscues in 88 games.

Midwest League Western Second Half Standings

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (ARI) 23 8 .742 - 11-3 12-5 5-5 L3
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 21 10 .677 2.0 11-6 10-4 8-2 W5
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 18 13 .581 5.0 10-7 8-6 6-4 W2
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)* 18 13 .581 5.0 8-6 10-7 5-5 W1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 14 16 .467 8.5 8-5 6-11 6-4 L2
Burlington Bees (LAA) 12 19 .387 11.0 6-11 6-8 4-6 L1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 11 19 .367 11.5 9-8 2-11 5-5 W3
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 6 25 .194 17.0 2-12 4-13 1-9 L5
* first-half division winner                

A second-half resurgence has put the Peoria Chiefs in great position for a playoff spot. After starting the month at 1-3, the Chiefs have taken 18 of their last 21 games.

Transactions Review

Steve Sabatino brings in needed relief for the bullpen with inconsistent mid-relievers prior to his addition. The lefty has already proven himself with a perfect appearance in the combined no-hitter.

Darren Seferina’s activation from the disabled rebuilds the solid Peoria lineup. While Oscar Mercado did an excellent job filling in, Seferina enhances a great hitting lineup with his .300 average and speed at the top of the order.

Full Transactions List

7/22/15: Steve Sabatino assigned to Peoria Chiefs from Palm Beach Cardinals.
7/23/15: St. Louis Cardinals sent LHP Jaime Garcia on a rehab assignment to Peoria Chiefs.
7/24/15: RHP Kevin Alexander assigned to State College Spikes from Peoria Chiefs.
7/24/15: CF Jhohan Acevedo assigned to State College Spikes from Peoria Chiefs.
7/24/15: Peoria Chiefs activated 2B Darren Seferina from the 7-day disabled list.

What’s Next

The Chiefs hit the road for a six-game road trip with three in Wisconsin and another three in Beloit. Luis Perdomo takes the mound for the Chiefs Tuesday night against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

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