Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2015 Week 18

Just three games out of first after a 4-2 week, the Midwest League club heads to Ohio. When Matt Pearce issues a walk, it is news.

This notebook covers Tuesday, August 4 through Monday, August 10.

After kicking off the homestand with four straight wins, the Peoria Chiefs hit a tiny skid with two losses that showed some vulnerability. The starting rotation looks ramped up for a playoff run, but the bullpen needs some tweaking, as the 4-2 week indicated.

8/4/15: Peoria Chiefs 8 vs. Lake County Captains 6

Despite a five spot put up by Lake County in the top of the first, the Chiefs came roaring back to tie up the game and eventually win.

Chiefs’ lefty Dewin Perez struggled early on as seven men came to the plate in the first to hang a crooked five on the scoreboard. Perez’s final line went five innings with six runs on ten hits, while striking out six and two walks.

Peoria’s bats turned a one-sided game into a tie with five runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth. In a 5-1 game, Alex De Leon hit a three-run shot that sneaked just over the left field wall to make it 5-4. The next batter, Brian O’Keefe, one-upped De Leon with a no-doubter way into left field to knot the game at five.

The Captains reclaimed the lead in the top of the sixth via sacrifice fly, but the Chiefs didn’t back down.

A wild seventh inning gave Peoria the lead, highlighted by a play that resulted in two runs scoring with the ball not even leaving the infield. De Leon hit a grounder to first that was mishandled and thrown away, bringing in Paul DeJong to score. A throw from second as De Leon advanced went home on a bang-bang play that scored Oscar Mercado.

Kyle Grana entered the game in the ninth and went 1-2-3 to earn the save.

8/5/15: Peoria Chiefs 7 vs. Lake County Captains 1

An offensive rout led the Chiefs to big win and Austin Gomber continued his terrific season, improving to 12-3 on the year.

Harrison Bader put Peoria up with his three-run blast in the bottom of the first, but that was just the beginning.

Jake Gronsky added his own home run with a no-doubter to deep left-center, as it became a 4-0 lead. The Chiefs added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Austin Gomber cruised through the Lake County lineup with 6 2/3 shutout innings and five punchouts. Nick Frey went 1 1/3 innings, surrendering a run on two hits, and Dixon Llorens tossed a scoreless ninth with a strikeout.

8/6/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Lake County Captains 1

Jack Flaherty’s career-high 12 strikeouts proved to be the difference maker as the Chiefs completed the sweep against the Lake County Captains.

The game was scoreless until Nick Thompson’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth put Peoria on the board.

Jack Flaherty threw a phenomenal start, going six innings with one run on five hits but took a no-decision. Flaherty’s sole mistake came in the top of the sixth, when a sacrifice fly knotted the game up.

Thompson came up big again in the bottom of the eighth and put the Chiefs up 2-1 by not swinging the bat. The right fielder drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Andrew Sohn.

Nick Lomascolo earned the win (2-1) with two scoreless innings, and Kyle Grana saved his 17th game with a perfect ninth inning.

8/7/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Fort Wayne Tin Caps 0

The Chiefs took the opener of the series against Fort Wayne on a stellar pitching performance from Matt Pearce.

Pearce went 6 1/3 shutout innings on six hits, two strikeouts, and two walks, which put an end to his Midwest League record 54 1/3 innings without allowing a free pass.

The game remained scoreless until Peoria broke through in the bottom of the sixth.

Nick Thompson delivered an RBI double that zipped down the left field line for the 1-0 lead. The Chiefs added their second run via fielding error in the seventh inning to pad their lead.

Cody Schumacher relieved for 1 2/3 shutout innings with one hit and a strikeout. Kyle Grana shut the door and struck out all three hitters faced for his 18th save.

8/8/15: Peoria Chiefs 4 vs. Fort Wayne Tin Caps 6

The Chiefs received another terrific start, but Ian McKinney’s outing went for naught as the bullpen allowed five runs in the final two frames to drop the second game of the series.

McKinney made a great showing with seven innings with an unearned run in his Chiefs debut. The 20-year-old lefty struck out eight.

Though the Chiefs had a 4-1 lead heading into the eighth, the wheels fell off. Errors and missed location in the zone played a vital role in the Chiefs’ late collapse. Jhonny Polanco could not record an out and gave up four runs, three earned, on two hits while walking two.

8/9/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Fort Wayne Tin Caps 4

Sunday brought a low scoring affair and a pitching duel throughout, but the bullpen once again fell through in the ninth as Fort Wayne dealt Peoria with their first home series loss since the beginning of June.

Dewin Perez went a season-high seven innings. The southpaw allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out two in his start.

The Chiefs brought in the first two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Paul DeJong hit a triple into the right-center field gap and could have nearly come all the way around to score. DeJong scored anyway via a sacrifice fly from Kenny Peoples-Walls.

The lead didn’t last for long as Fort Wayne came right back to tie things up in the top of the fifth.

The game remained tied with Kyle Grana entering the game in the ninth. With a runner on first and one out, Alex De Leon dropped a popup in foul territory to keep Tin Cap Luis Tejada at bat, who then singled to reach base. Both runners advanced after a wild pitch and then came across to score on an RBI single.

Peoria went down in order in the ninth and Fort Wayne sneaked out with another victory at Dozer Park.

Who’s Hot

Matt Pearce – The right-hander’s triumphant Midwest League record run has finally come to an end as his 54 1/3 innings without a walk was broken on August 7. Pearce continued his dominance with his third straight quality start and a shutout performance, however.

Paul DeJong – The third baseman is scorching at the plate. In his last 10 games, DeJong is hitting .421 with six RBI, three stolen bases, and six walks. DeJong’s big highlight of the homestand came on August 9, where he went 3-for-4 and fell just a home run short of the cycle.

Alex De Leon - In his five games in the homestand, De Leon collected a hit in each. While holding a six-game hit streak, he has also hit safely in eight of his last 10, raising his season average to .217.

Who’s Not

Jhonny Polanco – The righty reliever caught a tough break on August 8, where he could not record an out and gave up four runs in the process. The huge factor in the big inning for Fort Wayne came due to Polanco’s walks in the inning as well. Still, Polanco’s relief ERA of 2.83 is two runs better than his mark as a starter.

Jake Gronsky – Gronsky continues his woes at the plate with limited playing time as well. Over his last 10 games, he is batting .179. With Peoria, the right-handed hitter is sitting with a .173 average and a .271 OBP.

Peoria bullpen – The bullpen showed their soft spot in the Fort Wayne series, giving up a combined seven runs over 6 2/3 innings.

Standings – Midwest League Western – Second half

Club W L PCT GB Home Away L 10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (ARI) 31 12 .721 - 16-4 15-8 6-4 L1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)* 29 14 .674 2.0 16-7 13-7 9-1 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 28 15 .651 3.0 15-8 13-7 7-3 L2
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 25 18 .581 6.0 14-9 11-9 6-4 W2
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 18 24 .429 12.5 9-10 9-14 4-6 W1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 16 27 .372 15.0 8-15 8-12 4-6 W1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 15 27 .357 15.5 11-9 4-18 2-8 L1
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 9 34 .209 22.0 4-16 5-18 2-8 W1
* 1H division winer                

Transactions

8/6/15: IF Michael Massi assigned to Peoria Chiefs from Palm Beach Cardinals.
8/6/15: C Luis Cruz assigned to Springfield Cardinals from Peoria Chiefs.
8/8/15: RHP Luis Perdomo assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from Peoria Chiefs.
8/8/15: OF Derek Gibson assigned to Peoria Chiefs from Palm Beach Cardinals.

Transactions Review

With Luis Perdomo’s call-up, the rotation may have a bit of a gap to fill. However, with Ian McKinney’s stellar start, the rotation does still look promising in the hopes of a late playoff run.

Derek Gibson adds some nice offensive pop to the lineup as he comes in to Peoria with a .316 average from Springfield and Palm Beach in 2015.

What’s Next

The Chiefs hit the road and kick off a three-game set with the Dayton Dragons. Austin Gomber (12-3, 3.03) takes the mound for the Chiefs Tuesday night in the series opener. After Dayton, the Chiefs move on to Bowling Green with another three-game set with Hot Rods.



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