Jake Woodford (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

News from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria for the period July 26-August 1

Led by Jake Woodford, Peoria’s starting pitching bounced back in a big way this week, fantastic in nearly every game. After a 3-3 week, the Chiefs remain at .500 for the second half.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, July 26: No Game

 

Wednesday, July 27: Peoria Chiefs 8 at Quad Cities River Bandits 2

The game was close throughout until the Chiefs exploded for six runs in the top half of the ninth. With the exception of a Leobaldo Pina two-run home run in the fifth, Peoria had been held in check until the big finish.

Peoria had RBI singles from Dylan Tice, Jose Godoy and Magneuris Sierra, but R.J. Dennard did the most damage as he mashed a bases-clearing triple to plate three. Sierra and Godoy each had a pair of hits.

Jake Woodford delivered a phenomenal performance, dominating Quad Cities for seven innings. The righty made two mistakes, allowing two solo shots, but those were his only flaws. Woodford allowed five hits and no walks with nine strikeouts as he flexed a phenomenal fastball and filthy off-speed stuff.

Josh Wirsu threw the last two innings, earning the win. Wirsu gave up two hits and a walk and struck out one.  

 

Thursday, July 28: Peoria Chiefs 7 at Quad Cities River Bandits 8 (11)

As has become routine lately, Peoria squandered another late-game lead en route to the gut-wrenching loss. To add insult to injury, the Chiefs lost starter Juan Perez to injury in the second inning.

The 21-year-old was clearly having issues as he allowed five runs in the first two innings. Perez gave up six hits, including three home runs, and walked three with only one strikeout.

Luke Harrison and Jorge Rodriguez held down the fort for the next five innings, holding Quad Cities scoreless on only four hits.

The Chiefs took the lead in the fourth when they plated five runs thanks to a pair of two-out doubles from Sierra and Tice. Jose Martinez was 2-for-5 and Dennard had a pair of hits in six appearances.

Steven De La Cruz blew the late lead as he allowed the game-tying home run in the ninth inning. Steven Gallardo then gave up consecutive hits to begin the 11th to yield the winning run.

 

Friday, July 29: Peoria Chiefs 10 at Quad Cities River Bandits 4

Peoria scored early and often in this blowout win to close out their nine-game road trip at 2-6-1. The Chiefs punished Quad Cities pitching for 18 hits as seven Peoria starters had multiple hits.

Josh Swirchak, Chris Chinea, Pina and Dennard each had two hits, combining for four RBI. Jose Martinez, Jose Godoy and Carlos Torres each had three base knocks and a run batted in.

Derian Gonzalez flashed excellent stuff in his most extended start since coming off the DL. The righty held Quad Cities scoreless through five innings, yielding three hits on one walk with four whiffs. Gonzalez’s ERA on the year is now down to 2.45.

Nick Frey and Tyler Bray each gave up two runs in the final four innings, but Peoria’s massive lead created a situation in which it did not matter. The Chiefs scored in seven different innings in the win.

 

Saturday, July 30: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 0

Dailyn Martinez was fabulous in this pitchers’ duel, working into the eighth inning. Martinez pounded the zone and kept a low pitch count, throwing to contact all evening. The 23-year-old gave up only six hits with no walks and five strikeouts in his best start with Peoria.

The only run came in the third when Jose Martinez grounded out to second, driving in Matt Davis. Davis led off the inning with a single, followed by a Torres base hit. Sierra moved the runners into scoring position for Martinez.

Josh Wirsu entered the game in the eighth. The righty reliever preserved Martinez’s great performance as he shut the door quickly, striking out three in this 1 2/3 innings. Martinez picked up his third win on the year while Wirsu earned his first save.

 

Sunday, July 31: Peoria Chiefs 5 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2

Though his stuff did not look great, Brennan Leitao had one of his best outings of the second half. The 23-year-old mowed through Wisconsin hitters through six innings, allowing six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. The righty yielded two runs in his night of work.

Leitao’s curveball looked much sharper than in recent starts. The break on his curve was crisp and routinely thrown low in the zone. Though Leitao’s fastball was still mediocre, he performed well enough to keep Wisconsin hitters guessing.

However, Leitao gave up another home run, his 12th of the year, which ties him for second in the league in this unenviable category.

Peoria took the lead in the fifth thanks to a Brian O’Keefe line-drive home run that drove in Martinez. The bomb was O’Keefe’s seventh of the year and his first of two hits of the night.

O’Keefe drove in Sierra two innings later on an infield single. Chinea backed that up with a two-run blast one pitch later, giving Peoria a 5-2 lead.

Steven Gallardo and Steven De La Cruz came on in relief and held Wisconsin scoreless in the final three innings.

 

Monday, August 1: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 3

John Kilichowski made his Peoria debut, the first Chiefs game all season in which a lefty started on the bump. The 6’5” lefty displayed a smooth, long delivery with a mid- to high-80’s fastball and an average changeup.

The first inning was rough for Kilichowski as he allowed three consecutive two-out hits to plate a pair of runs. However, Kilichowski calmed down and provided a quality outing, lasting six innings and allowing three runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

Brian O’Keefe put Peoria on the board in the fourth with a solo-shot, his eighth of the year. However, Peoria was held scoreless throughout the rest of the way. The Chiefs had a difficult time stringing together hits, with only six in total.  

In relief, Jorge Rodriguez and Tyler Bray combined to retire the final 14 batters.

                                                           

Peoria Spikes?

With the recent promotions of Sandy Alcantara and Edmundo Sosa and injuries to Ryan Helsley and Eliezer Alvarez, Peoria has received numerous players from State College.

http://www.scout.com/player/204176-jose-martinez?s=321

The results have certainly been mixed. Dylan Tice and Jose Martinez mashed the ball in Peoria as they each hit .375 in their time here, Juan Perez, who started the year in State College, provided quality innings over the last couple months. Dailyn Martinez has also had some fantastic starts, though he has been wildly inconsistent from start to start. John Kilichowski delivered a quality start in his Peoria debut, yet his stuff was underwhelming with an average fastball and a changeup that only deviated from the heater by 4-5 miles per hour.

http://www.scout.com/player/165909-dailyn-martinez?s=321

Most players have had a tough time adjusting. Bladimil Franco consistently makes gaffes in right field and is struggling to hit the ball. Carlos Torres shows flashes of being a good contact hitter, but he has mainly been a liability at the dish. Josh Swirchak and Matt Davis are new additions, yet their first impressions leave a lot to be desired as they are each hitting below .230.

The newer crowd certainly gives cause for concern once the playoffs roll around. On nights that Jake Woodford or Derian Gonzalez do not pitch, more than half of the Chiefs lineup is made up of State College players. Many of these call-ups do not appear to be ready for this level, and without improvement, could be overwhelmed by the top-talent in September. When you combine that with Chiefs who have struggled all year, you get mediocre results.  

However, from a player development standpoint, the call-ups are important. As has been mentioned before, whether the Chiefs win or lose these games do not matter, as they have clinched a playoff spot. This is a good opportunity for younger prospects, such as Dailyn Martinez and Jose Martinez, to see better talent and develop their skills.

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/182773-jake-woodford?s=321

Jake Woodford. The 19-year-old was fantastic last Wednesday as he mowed through Quad Cities hitters all evening. Woodford fanned nine batters and did not allow a free pass while only giving up two solo home runs. This marks the fifth consecutive start in which the Florida native has given up three or fewer runs, but more importantly, it was his longest start since his injury. The righty lasted seven strong innings, his second longest outing of the season. Woodford’s ERA is now down to 2.81 with a 1.17 WHIP, and he is showing he can be effective deep into his starts. His first full season is blossoming into a fabulous one.

http://www.scout.com/player/188897-chris-chinea?s=321

Chris Chinea. The LSU-alum has been a very solid hitter all year and is definitely the best hitter in the Chiefs lineup at the moment. Chinea had a nine-game hit streak going, including four multi-hit performances, that was snapped Monday. The DH’s hot streak has been crucial to Peoria’s success over the last week since he sits in the middle of the order every night. The 22-year-old is 14 for his last 45 and has driven in eight runs in his last 10 games with five runs scored. With Alvarez on the DL, there is a lot of pressure on Chinea to produce because there are not many quality hitters in the lineup. Chinea is handling that pressure very well.

 

Who’s Not

Bladimil Franco. The Dominican has a lot of raw talent, but he has no idea how to harness it. Defensively, Franco has a great arm and runs well for his size, yet he makes some horrendous mistakes. Franco is also struggling terribly at the plate. The 22-year-old is 3-for-19 over the last week, which brings his average down to .213 on the season. He is just one of many State-College call-ups who are not ready to hit at this level.

 

Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players

Dylan Tice (hot). Tice did not last long in Peoria, but for a good reason. The second baseman hit .375 in only eight games for the Chiefs before being promoted to Palm Beach.

Magneuris Sierra (hot). The 20-year-old has his 10-game hitting streak snapped on Monday, but he has otherwise been mediocre. Sierra was only 6-for-25 during the week’s action.

Carlos Torres (cold). Torres has put together a six game hit-streak, including a three-hit performance on Friday. The Venezuelan is out of his major slump, which is encouraging. However, Torres is still hitting .228 on the season.

Juan Perez (cold). Perez had another miserable start, but it looks like an injury affected his performance. The 21-year-old was placed on the 7-day DL on Friday.

 

Transactions

LHP John Kilichowski and RHP Ronnie Williams were assigned to Peoria from State College on Sunday.

RHP Sandy Alcantara was assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria on Saturday.

3B Matt Davis was assigned to Peoria from State College on Friday.

2B Dylan Tice was assigned to Palm Beach from Peoria on Friday.

RHP Nick Frey was assigned to Springfield from Peoria on Tuesday and then sent back to Peoria on Wednesday.

 

Injuries

Ryan Helsley, Jery Then and Eliezer Alvarez remain on the 7-day DL, joined this week by Juan Perez.

 

Team Stats – Season to Date

Peoria had a pretty solid week offensively, but pitching carried them. While they have been giving up more home runs, they tend to be only one- or two-run shots.

Offense Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
BA .265 3 (3)
Runs 459 4 (T-7)
HR 32 15 (15)
Stolen Bases 81 10 (8)
OBP .328 5 (4)
OPS .681 6 (7)
     
Pitching Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
ERA 3.48 7 (8)
Strikeouts 874 4 (4)
Walks 329 7 (6)
HR Allowed 55 5 (7)
Saves 29 7 (9)

Midwest League Western Division Second Half Standings

Club (Previous rank) W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
*Clinton (1) 25 12 .676 - 5-5 L1
Cedar Rapids (2) 23 14 .622 2.0 8-2 W1
Burlington (4) 20 17 .541 5.0 5-5 L1
Quad Cities (3) 20 17 .541 5.0 5-5 L1
*Peoria (6) 18 18 .500 6.5 4-6 L1
Wisconsin (5) 18 19 .486 7.0 4-6 W1
Beloit (7) 15 22 .405 10.0 4-6 W1
Kane County (8) 13 24 .351 12.0 4-6 W1
             
* Clinched Playoffs            

What’s Next

Peoria finishes off its home series with Wisconsin (18-19) on Tuesday before kicking off a three game set against Quad Cities (20-17). State College call-up Ronnie Williams will make his debut on Wednesday. This weekend, the Chiefs travel to Cedar Rapids (23-14).

 

Follow Alex Kryah on Twitter @ar_Kryah9.

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