Tuesday, May 31: Peoria Chiefs 5 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 1
Junior Fernandez returned to form as he dominated Wisconsin through six innings. The right-hander had electric stuff, striking out six and only walking two. Fernandez gave up three hits, but did not allow a run.
Brian O’Keefe and Chris Chinea carried the offensive load, driving in three of the team’s runs. O’Keefe ripped a triple in the eighth to drive in Eliezer Alvarez, while Chinea plated O’Keefe in both the third and eighth innings.
Reliever Juan Perez yielded a run in the top of the eighth inning, but it clearly did not hurt the Chiefs. Perez worked for two innings, giving up one run on two hits while Steven De La Cruz threw in the ninth inning, striking out one.
Wednesday June 1: Peoria Chiefs 7 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2
Once again, Peoria scored early on to power another win. An Edmundo Sosa home run in the first drove in Magneuris Sierra, but that was not the end of Sosa’s damage. The shortstop drove in two more runs on a double in the third, and he also scored in the sixth.
Sosa was a perfect 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored, while Sierra was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Chinea and Thomas Spitz also had two hits.
Ryan Helsley earned the win to improve to 4-1 on the season. The 21-year-old went six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. Once again, he was hittable, but Helsley effectively worked out of plenty of jams.
Thursday June 2: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 3
A solid start from Brennan Leitao was spoiled due to a major lack of run support. Peoria was held to only one run on seven hits.
Leitao finally bounced back after a couple of rough starts by going 7 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs. The 23-year-old allowed six hits, including a home run, and one walk with four strikeouts. Leitao fell to 3-5 on the year with a 2.78 ERA.
Alvarez and Dylan Becker had solid games at the plate, each recording two hits. Becker recorded the team’s only RBI, driving in Vaughn Bryan in the seventh.
Friday June 3: Peoria Chiefs 13 at Cedar Rapids 4
Eight runs in the first two innings fueled the Chiefs to a blowout win over first place Cedar Rapids on Friday. A three-run home run from Brian O’Keefe in the first inning plated Sierra and Alvarez, and Peoria sent every hitter to the plate in the second en route to scoring five runs.
Sierra, Sosa and Alvarez dominated Cedar Rapids, combining to go 8-for-15 with five runs scored and seven RBI. Alvarez recorded four hits, while Sierra and Sosa each had two.
Starter Derian Gonzalez had a bit of a rough outing, lasting only 4 2/3 innings and giving up four runs on nine hits and three walks. Gonzalez was not as sharp as usual as his ERA rose to 2.77.
The bullpen, however, was stellar. Jorge Rodriguez and Luke Harrison worked the last 4 1/3 innings, combining to give up no runs on no hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Saturday June 4: Peoria Chiefs 2 at Cedar Rapids 9
At this point, you never totally know what you are going to get with Sandy Alcantara. He has been electric at times and dull at others. Saturday was one of his dull moments. The right-hander was chased after only three innings after giving up seven runs in his short outing. The Dominican allowed eight hits, including a two-run home run, and three walks and struck out four. Alcantara is now 4-4 with a 5.21 ERA.
Peoria was silenced offensively for most of the game. Except for RBI-singles from O’Keefe in the fourth and sixth, the Chiefs were completely thwarted at the plate. Only five players recorded a hit.
Brady Bowen had a rough outing in relief as he gave up two runs on four hits in two innings. Harley Holt, however, was very effective in his three innings, as he did not allow a run on four hits and one walk.
Sunday June 5: Peoria Chiefs 9 at Cedar Rapids 4
It is becoming routine for Peoria to score a lot of runs early in the game, and Sunday followed this trend. The Chiefs scored four runs in the second inning thanks to a two-RBI double from Craig Aikin and RBIs from R.J. Dennard and Sierra.
Eight of the nine hitters in the Chiefs lineup recorded a hit, and almost all of the team’s 14 hits were singles. Alvarez and Chinea each recorded three hits and both are now hitting above .300. Sierra recorded a pair of hits with a pair of RBI.
Jake Woodford worked for six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks. The righty’s stuff was pretty solid as he stuck out six Kernels. Woodford improved to 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA.
Monday June 6: No Game
Scoring Early and Often
In each of Peoria’s wins this week, the Chiefs scored at least two or more runs in the first three innings. That is very impressive, and it also creates a lot of benefits outside of simply taking an early lead. It gives the hitters a sense of ease throughout the rest of the game knowing that they can be a little more patient at the plate. Peoria hitters do not have to press later on, and you can tell that they are relaxed too considering how well they hit throughout the game. They are now third in the Midwest League in average at .263.
Further, pitchers are more relaxed when they have an early lead to work with. They do not have to worry about being perfect to keep their team in the game. Peoria is really starting to look like a quality ball club, and it is getting a lot of help from its best hitters. Speaking of…
Chris Chinea. Though Chinea has significantly fewer at bats than others on the team, he has still played an instrumental part in the team’s success recently. The catcher is now hitting .315 and is more proficient at driving in runs than anyone else. In only 34 games in Peoria, he is third on the team with 23 RBI.
Chinea has been a cog in the heart of the Chiefs order and has certainly benefited from splitting time behind the plate with Brian O’Keefe. The 22-year-old does not have to catch every day, so he does not have to worry about managing a game from behind the plate as often. It also takes stress off of his body, which certainly helps him at the dish.
Eliezer Alvarez. Alvarez has certainly found his groove in the three-hole in Peoria’s lineup. The Dominican is now hitting .311 with a strong .845 OPS., which ranks 11th in the league. He is continuing to drive balls into the gaps and now has 17 doubles on the year, and is also flashing his speed quite often. The 21-year-old is 15-for-20 in stolen base attempts and routinely gets himself in a position to score. It is clear to see why Alvarez started the year in the leadoff spot, but he is much more comfortable hitting third, and we should continue to see him produce there.
Sandy Alcantara. It has not been smooth sailing for the 20-year-old pitcher lately. Alcantara has given up four or more runs in each of his last three starts and has only lasted eight innings in his previous two starts combined. His WHIP is up to 1.45 and his ERA is at 5.21.
Alcantara’s issue is that he is not locating his pitches well at all. While his fastball and curveball are good, he leaves them over the heart of the plate. Any good professional hitter is going to hit a pitch in that region. Alcantara can certainly turn it around, but he needs to work extremely hard on executing his pitches better in the future.
Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players
Magneuris Sierra (hot). The speedy centerfielder had another very solid week. In his last 10 games, Sierra is hitting .381 and has drawn six walks. The 20-year-old has locked down centerfield defensively, too. He is fun to watch defensively, and is continuing to improve at the plate.
Jake Woodford (hot). Woodford had a pretty start last week. He has worked at least six innings in his last four starts and has given up only five runs since the end of April. The 19-year-old is looking mature beyond his years out there.
R.J. Dennard (cold). The first baseman did not have a stellar week. In his four games, Dennard recorded three hits. His average is now down to .247 and he is hitting near the bottom of the order.
Relief pitchers Jery Then and Steven Gallardo remain on the 7-day DL.
Team Stats – Season to Date
|Offense||Season Stat||MWL rank of 16 (Last week's rank)|
|Stolen Bases||48||6 (7)|
|Pitching||Season Stat||MWL rank of 16 (Last week's rank)|
|HR Allowed||23||8 (6)|
Midwest League Western Division Standings
|Club (Previous rank)||W||L||Pct.||GB||L10||STRK|
|Cedar Rapids (1)||31||25||.554||-||4-6||L1|
|Kane County (4)||27||29||.482||4.0||5-5||W1|
|Quad Cities (8)||23||33||.411||8.0||3-7||L3|
Peoria will play a double header at red-hot Burlington on Tuesday, and will continue there until Thursday. Peoria then hosts Cedar Rapids for a three game set this weekend before opening up next week at Clinton.
Follow Alex Kryah on Twitter @ar_Kryah9.
© 2016 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.