Eliezer Alvarez (Peoria Chiefs)

Insider news from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Midwest League affiliate in Peoria for the period August 30-September 5.

Peoria closed out the regular season on a bit of a rough note as they lost four of their last five games. Eliezer Alvarez and Ryan Helsley will lead the Chiefs into their playoff series with Clinton starting on Wednesday.

Game Summaries

 

Tuesday, August 30: No Game

 

Wednesday, August 31: Peoria Chiefs 8 vs. Beloit Snappers 4

Peoria dominated Beloit last Wednesday thanks a five-run sixth inning and a strong start from Jorge Rodriguez. Rodriguez allowed only one run through six innings, yielding five hits and four walks. The righty had some control issues but he was able to work out of trouble consistently.

The Dominican earned his fourth win of the year and his ERA dropped to 2.00, best among current Peoria starting pitchers.

The bottom portion of the Peoria order carried the offensive load as hitters 5-9 had eight combined hits and five RBI. Chris Chinea and Leobaldo Pina, who each had a pair of hits, doubled back-to-back in the sixth to spur the scoring spree. Craig Aikin also doubled in the inning to drive in a pair of runs.

Aikin, along with Carlos Torres, were 2-for-4. Aikin had a pair of doubles and Torres scored a pair of runs.

The Chiefs were up 8-1 going into the ninth before Steven De La Cruz had a rough time. The reliever gave up three runs on three hits and a walk before finally closing the door.

 

Thursday, September 1: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Beloit Snappers 2

Jake Woodford started Thursday’s game against Beloit, but because manager Joe Kruzel is preparing him for Game 1 in Clinton next week, his start was extremely abbreviated. The righty only tossed two innings, and he did not look very sharp. Woodford yielded one run on a pair of hits and three walks with only one punch out.

John Kilichowski carried Peoria for five more innings and was fantastic. The lefty had complete control of the zone as he only allowed three hits and one run. Kilichowski struck out six and left Peoria in a great position to win.

However, Peoria had a dismal night at the plate with only six hits, two from Magneuris Sierra. The center fielder led off the game with a single and later scored on a double steal. That early run was it for Peoria.

Tyler Bray and Josh Wirsu kept Beloit in check in the final two innings, striking out five and only allowing one hit. Peoria pitchers combined to strike out 12 Snappers.

 

Friday, September 2: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Beloit Snappers 0

The Chiefs put together another phenomenal pitching performance as they shut out Beloit in the series finale. Ryan Helsley dominated the opposition for 6 2/3 innings as he allowed only one hit, a double in the second. The Oklahoma native struck out 13 hitters and did not walk anyone.

The dominant performance was Helsley’s best of the year as he perfectly executed all of his pitches. His fastball was electric while his changeup and curveball fooled hitters all night.

Thankfully, Peoria did not need many runs to win. The Chiefs scored in the first on an attempted double steal that saw Eliezer Alvarez get thrown out while Sierra scored. Sierra was 1-for-5.

Alvarez later scored the other Peoria run after a single and a Brian O’Keefe double. O’Keefe had a pair of doubles in as many at-bats while Alvarez was 2-for-3.

Harley Holt and Davis Ward tossed the final 2 1/3 innings and helped secure Peoria’s shutout effort. The pair only allowed one hit and struck out three to close the game.

 

Saturday, September 3: Peoria Chiefs 2 at Kane County Cougars 3

A quality start from Ronnie Williams was spoiled by late-inning fatigue and a walk-off home run for Kane County. Williams delivered 6 2/3 innings of solid pitching, striking out four and only walking one. The Florida native only allowed two runs on three hits, one a home run.

Though his habit of allowing home runs continued, Williams still looked much better than his last outing. The righty’s efforts kept Peoria in the game until the bottom of the ninth when Josh Wirsu allowed a bases-loaded walk-off single.

Peoria did not provide much run support for its pitchers. Alvarez and Jose Godoy were responsible for half of the team’s hits and both runs. Alvarez had a pair of doubles in four at-bats while Godoy was also 2-for-4.

Godoy’s RBI single in the fourth plated Alvarez while R.J. Dennard drove in Godoy on the next at-bat on a double. Aside from those at-bats, Peoria only had two other opportunities to hit with runners in scoring position,

 

Sunday, September 4: Peoria Chiefs 5 at Kane County Cougars 6 (13)

The Chiefs got off to a red-hot start on Sunday thanks to RBI base hits from O’Keefe and Chinea in the first and a Carlos Torres two-run home run bomb in the second. Peoria hit the ball well all afternoon, getting 13 hits.

However, Peoria had a difficult time driving runners home after the second. Following a Chinea RBI-single in the fifth, Peoria did not have a hit with runners in scoring position for the remainder of the game.

The Chiefs left the fifth inning tied, though, because Dailyn Martinez was knocked around again. The Dominican allowed five runs, three earned, on 11 hits through five innings. Though the righty did not walk anyone, he had trouble hitting his spots and leaving pitches over the plate. Martinez allowed his fifth home run of the year in the fifth inning.

Peoria relievers combined to shut out Kane County for the next seven innings on only one hit. Davis Ward, Steven De La Cruz and Tyler Bray struck out a total of nine batters and did not yield a walk.

The Chiefs were short staffed and had to rely on second baseman Matt Davis to pitch the 13th. Davis got two outs before allowing a walk-off single.

 

Monday, September 5: Peoria Chiefs 6 at Kane County Cougars 7

Despite mounting a furious rally in the ninth, the Chiefs fell short in their final regular season game. Peoria scored a pair of runs on RBI-singles from Jose Martinez and Alvarez. Then, with runners on second and third and no outs, Peoria was not able to plate the tying run.

Martinez and Alvarez were 2-for-5, Martinez with an RBI and run scored while Alvarez drove in a pair with a run scored.

Peoria found themselves in a deep hole because of a four-run fifth inning. Harley Holt allowed three doubles, leading to three earned runs.

Starter Jorge Rodriguez did not fare too much better, though. Rodriguez only threw three innings but gave up a pair of runs on five hits and a walk. The big righty’s day was shortened because Joe Kruzel wanted to give all of his relievers some work.

Juan Perez came off the DL and worked an inning befoe Josh Wirsu and Nick Frey also pitched an inning each. Though Frey gave up a run in the eighth, Wirsu and Perez put up zeroes on the board.

 

Peoria finishes on losing stretch

The Chiefs showed some encouraging moments over the past week, but by and large they did not look like a team that is ready for postseason baseball. Peoria lost four of its last five games, which does not bode well for the team’s confidence. Though the losses were close games, it is disheartening that the Chiefs could not find a way to win.

The offense was dismal throughout most of the week against pretty subpar competition. Both Beloit and Kane County rank near the bottom of the division, and Peoria could hardly put up runs all week against either. The Chiefs starting pitching was solid this week, as was the bullpen. However, both units have shown inconsistency this season, especially the bullpen, so it is tough to predict how they will fare against an objectively superior Clinton squad.

If Peoria’s offense can find a way to get clicking on Wednesday, they have a chance to advance. But offensive outputs of six and seven hits in a game will not get the job done.

 

Who’s Hot

http://www.scout.com/player/158983-eliezer-alvarez?s=321

Eliezer Alvarez. The second baseman is on an absolute tear at the best possible time. Alvarez is hitting .410 in his last 10 games with a home run, five RBI and seven runs scored. Alvarez is the best hitter on the team, so Peoria will look to him to carry the offensive load in the playoffs. The Dominican finished the regular season with a .323 average, a .404 OBP and .476 slugging percentage. His power in the heart of Peoria’s lineup will be key in the coming week.

http://www.scout.com/player/200626-ryan-helsley?s=321
Ryan Helsley. The righty continues to be Peoria’s best pitcher and he showed why he is the most talented guy on the squad on Friday. Helsley dished 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and struck out 13 hitters, flashing his brilliant fastball and sharp curve. The Oklahoma native sat out for a portion of the season with an injury, so he has a lot of gas left in the tank. In 95 innings this year, Helsley struck out 109 hitters and walked only 19. His ERA is a team best among starters at 1.61.

 

Who’s Not

Dailyn Martinez. After collecting a pair of really nice starts, Martinez has fallen into a slump in his last two. The Dominican has allowed 21 hits and eight runs in his last 10 innings pitched. Martinez certainly has the stuff to be effective, but recently the righty has had a difficult time of hitting his spots. Martinez finished his season in Peoria with a 5.78 ERA in 67 innings.

Matt Davis. Davis has had a rough week and a half. Though he had a two-hit game on Monday, the second baseman had only five hits in 27 at-bats with eight strikeouts. Then, Davis had to pitch in the 13th inning at Kane County, only to allow the game-winning run. Obviously, the pitching appearance does not matter, but his offensive performance has been woeful. Davis only hit .179 in 17 games in Peoria.

 

Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players

Magneuris Sierra (hot). Sierra had a hit in almost every game he played in this week, but the centerfielder had three one-hit performances with only one multi-hit game. Over his last 10 games, Sierra is still hitting .391.

Nick Frey (hot). The reliever had a pair of appearances this week. In 2 1/3 innings, Frey allowed a run on three hits and no walks. Frey struck out three.

Ronnie Williams (cold). The Florida native had a solid start, working into the seventh and only yielding a pair of runs. Williams did allow his seventh home run in six starts in Peoria. Unfortunately, Williams was placed on the DL on Sunday.  

 

Transactions

Oft-injured RHP Steven Gallardo was released on Thursday.

 

Injuries

Ronnie Williams was placed on the 7-day DL on Monday with a shoulder strain.

Juan Perez was activated from the DL on Monday.

Jery Then and Luke Harrison remain on the 7-day DL.

 

Team Stats – Season to Date

Peoria finished the season tied for the highest batting average in the league, though they were fourth in runs scored. While Peoria had dominant pitching for the first half of the season, they finished near the middle of the pack overall.

Offense Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)
BA .266 1 (4)
Runs 602 4 (4)
HR 49 15 (15)
Stolen Bases 103 9 (9)
OBP .331 3 (4)
OPS .691 4 (6)
     
Pitching Season Stat MWL rank of 16 (Last Week’s rank)
ERA 3.57 11 (11)
Strikeouts 1177 4 (T-5)
Walks 406 9 (9)
HR Allowed 75 2 (2)
Saves 34 11 (T-11)

Midwest League Western Division Second Half Standings

Club (Previous rank) W L Pct. GB L10 STRK
*Clinton (1) 47 23 .671 - 4-6 L1
# Cedar Rapids (2) 42 28 .600 5.0 6-4 W1
# Wisconsin (4) 37 33 .529 10.0 7-3 L1
Burlington (3) 36 34 .514 11.0 4-6 L1
*Peoria (5) 33 36 .478 13.5 5-5 L3
Kane County (7) 32 28 .457 15.0 7-3 W4
Quad Cities (6) 30 40 .429 17.0 3-7 W1
Beloit (8) 27 43 .386 200 4-6 W1
             
* 1H Playoff Spot            
# 2H Playoff Spot            

What’s Next

Peoria begins its playoff series in Clinton (47-23) on Wednesday. The Chiefs will play at least one home game on Thursday, and Game 3, if necessary, will be on Friday in Peoria.

 

Follow Alex Kryah on Twitter @ar_Kryah9.

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