Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2015 Week 21

The Chiefs clinched a wild card berth, assuring their first playoff action in six years (or four). Dependable closer Kyle Grana is 22 of 24 in save opportunities.

This notebook covers the period of Tuesday, 8/25 through Monday, 8/31.

It was a back-and-forth week for the Peoria Chiefs as they went 4-3. The Chiefs celebrated a big achievement by winning the wild card, continuing their season in a championship run for the first time since 2009 and first for the St. Louis Cardinals in the Midwest League since 2011.

8/25/15: Peoria Chiefs 7 @ Cedar Rapids Kernels 4

The Chiefs bounced back with a win after surrendering a franchise-high 23 runs the previous night.

Matt Pearce took the bump and turned in seven innings with two runs on six hits and three strikeouts. The right-hander’s outing earned him his 10th win of the season to add to his 2.67 ERA.

The bats came to life as Peoria rounded up 17 hits, highlighted by Nick Thompson’s perfect 5-for-5 night at the plate with two doubles and an RBI. Thompson kicked a four-run fourth into gear with his infield single that scored Harrison Bader and the Chiefs never looked back.

Despite leaving 10 men on, the Chiefs went 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position and had five extra base hits.

Darren Seferina added to the scoring, going 4-for-5 with a three-bagger and an RBI.

Nick Frey worked into some trouble in his 1/3 inning with two runs on two hits. However, Kyle Grana came in to save the day with his 21st save in a perfect outing of 1 2/3 innings with three K’s.

8/26/15: Peoria Chiefs 7 @ Cedar Rapids Kernels 5

Being outscored in the series didn’t matter for Peoria as they took the rubber match in Cedar Rapids and dropped their magic number to one.

The Chiefs had back-to-back three run innings to take the lead on two separate occasions in this back-and-forth game. Harrison Bader led the charge with a 4-for-4 night, which included two triples and three RBI.

Brian O’Keefe padded Peoria’s lead in the sixth with his fourth home run of the year to make it a 7-4 lead.

Ian McKinney went six innings with four runs on seven hits, two walks, and five strikeouts on route to his third win since joining the Chiefs. Tyler Bray pitched two shutout innings with five strikeouts and Jery Then earned the save.

8/27/15: Peoria Chiefs 6 @ Quad Cities River Bandits 8

The Chiefs didn’t let the loss rain on their parade as they clinched a playoff spot thanks to a Beloit Snappers loss.

Peoria got on the board first with a run in the top of the first against Houston Astros’ 2nd round pick Thomas Eshelman, but that was their only lead.

Dewin Perez was dealt with his sixth loss of the year with six runs, two earned, on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. Steve Sabatino went two hitless innings but allowed two runs while walking four. Sasha Kuebel tossed 2 1/3 shutout innings.

The Chiefs outhit Quad Cities with their 15 hits and went 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position. A five-run eighth made things interesting late, but it wasn’t enough as Peoria dropped the first game of the series.

8/28/15: Peoria Chiefs 0 @ Quad Cities River Bandits 3

Jack Flaherty threw a great outing, but the defense couldn’t back him up as Peoria fell in Game 2 of the series. Flaherty went seven innings with three runs, one earned, on five hits, and six strikeouts.

The offense brought together a mere four hits, leaving eight on and going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Two costly errors included Oscar Mercado’s 40th of the year.

The Chiefs had no answers for Quad Cities pitching staff as they went down on strikes 12 times and coaxed only one walk in the shutout loss.

8/29/15: Peoria Chiefs 4 @ Quad Cities River Bandits 2

Austin Gomber earned his 15th win of the season as the Chiefs avoided being swept. The ace lefty of the Peoria staff went six innings with one unearned run on two hits with eight strikeouts.

The Chiefs had multiple multi-hit games from Harrsion Bader, Brian O’Keefe and Steve Bean. Bader sent a blast over the wall in the top of the ninth to make it a 4-2 game as a major insurance run.

Nick Lomascolo threw a perfect seventh with a strikeout, Nick Frey struck out the side in a scoreless frame, and Jery Then closed out the game in the ninth.

8/30/15: Peoria Chiefs 3 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 7

The Kernels routed the Chiefs again, but were a bit tamer this time around as the series opened in Peoria with a 7-3 score.

Landon Beck was rocked by Cedar Rapids through his 6 1/3 innings with seven runs, four earned, on 11 hits, a walk, one home run, and six strikeouts.

Brian O’Keefe had a nice evening at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and falling just a triple short of the cycle.

Tyler Bray tossed 1 2/3 shutout innings and Kyle Grana followed with a perfect ninth.

8/31/15: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 0

Matt Pearce paved the way for the Chiefs with a terrific shutout to lead the Chiefs to a 1-0 victory.

The Chiefs put the only run on the board thanks to defensive mishaps by the Kernels.

Darren Seferina led off the bottom of the first by reaching on an error, stole second, and advanced to third via wild pitch. Oscar Mercado finished the job with the RBI single and that’s all the support Pearce needed.

Peoria’s righty went six shutout innings with four strikeouts. Steve Sabatino and Nick Frey tossed a scoreless inning each, and Kyle Grana had a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout to earn his 22nd save.

Who’s Hot

Harrison Bader – The 21-year-old outfielder has been heating up and has proven to be a huge to spark Peoria’s playoff run thanks to his bat. In his last 10 games, Bader is hitting at .350 with two homers, seven RBI, and scored 14 times. He was named the Midwest League Player of the Week for the period of August 24-30.

Austin Gomber – Peoria’s most consistent pitcher just lets the good times roll, highlighted by this week’s outing that gave him his 15th win on the year. Gomber has pitched back-to-back, two-hit, six inning shutouts with a combined 18 strikeouts.

Kyle Grana – The closer is answering the call when it comes to finishing the game. In his last four outings, Grana has faced just one over the minimum in his 13 men faced, including seven strikeouts. On the season, Grana has 22 saves in 24 opportunities.

Who’s Not

Landon Beck – It has not been the debut Beck had expected after his call-up from State College. In his first two starts with Peoria, Beck has an ERA of 7.71 over 9 1/3 innings.

Dewin Perez – The southpaw faced another rocky start. While defensive errors played a vital role, Perez’s outing this week still went just a mere 3 2/3 innings, raising his season ERA to 5.76. Perez’s time on the mound for the playoffs may be limited if the trend continues.

Kenny Peoples-Walls – The everyday outfielder has struggled at the plate as of late. In his last 10 games, Peoples-Walls is hitting .189 and has struck out 12 times in his last 33 at-bats.

Standings – Midwest League West – Second Half

Kane County Cougars (ARI) @ 43 20 .683 - 23-8 20-12 35-16 6-4 W1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU)* 40 23 .635 3.0 22-10 18-13 34-17 7-3 W2
Peoria Chiefs (STL) @ 39 24 .619 4.0 20-11 19-13 32-19 5-5 W1
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 32 31 .508 11.0 17-15 15-16 26-25 3-7 L1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 27 35 .435 15.5 16-16 11-19 22-28 7-3 L1
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 26 36 .419 16.5 16-15 10-21 22-28 7-3 W2
Burlington Bees (LAA) 22 41 .349 21.0 12-19 10-22 19-32 3-7 L2
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 16 47 .254 27.0 8-23 8-24 13-38 3-7 L3
* first-half division winner
@ clinched playoff


8/25/15: Peoria Chiefs placed RHP Dixon Llorens on the 7-day disabled list. Right forearm tendinitis.
8/26/15: Peoria Chiefs placed 2B Jake Gronsky on the 7-day disabled list. Fractured left hand.
8/27/15: IF Josh Swirchak assigned to Peoria Chiefs from State College Spikes.
8/27/15: LHP Sasha Kuebel assigned to Peoria Chiefs from Johnson City Cardinals.

Kuebel adds a nice mix to the bullpen with his solid numbers at Johnson City this season - a 3-3 record, an ERA of 3.60 in 30 innings pitched and 32 strikeouts.

Stat of the Week

The Chiefs managed to take two of three at Cedar Rapids despite being outscored 32-17 in the series.

What’s Next

The Chiefs enter the homestretch of the regular season with four games remaining at Dozer Park. Peoria finishes off Cedar Rapids Tuesday night and will host the Burlington Bees for three starting on Wednesday night. The Chiefs hit the road for three at Kane County over the weekend to end the regular season and will await their postseason opponent.

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