Wednesday, September 7: MWL Western Division Semifinals Game 1
Peoria Chiefs 0 at Clinton LumberKings 4
Game 1 of the MWL playoffs could not have gone worse for Peoria, at least on the offensive end. The Chiefs were limited to only three hits as the Clinton starter absolutely dominated Peoria hitters. Only Chris Chinea, Leobaldo Pina and Carlos Torres recorded a hit.
Peoria had a chance to strike in the third inning when Peoria had runners on second and third with no-outs. However, Craig Aikin killed the rally with a 4-6-3 double play. The Chiefs never had a decent opportunity after that.
Eliezer Alvarez and Brian O’Keefe were the only other Peoria base runners as they each drew a walk.
Jake Woodford toed the rubber for Game 1 and gave the Chiefs a great chance to win. Though the 19-year-old continued to look shaky, he was able to keep Clinton in check for five innings. The righty allowed two runs on six hits and one walk with five punch-outs.
Obviously, because Peoria had major struggles offensively, Woodford’s efforts were in vain.
Tyler Bray took the ball for an atrocious seventh inning that led to a pair of runs. Bray allowed a walk, a wild pitch and a pair of hits before the Chiefs committed a pair of errors in the field.
Thursday, September 8: MWL Western Division Semifinals Game 2
Peoria Chiefs 3 vs. Clinton LumberKings 4
Ryan Helsley had been simply dominant over the last month and a half, but the righty was unable to keep his hot streak alive. While the Oklahoma native’s stuff was there, Helsley had command issues as he missed his spots over the plate and out of the zone.
The 21-year-old allowed four runs through 5 2/3 innings, and for most of the game, those runs seemed to be enough to beat Peoria. Helsley yielded nine hits, including a mammoth home run, and issued four free passes while only striking out three hitters.
Four runs matched the total number of scores that Helsey had given up in his previous eight starts combined.
The Chiefs had a horrible time at the dish for most of the game. Entering the sixth inning, only Aikin and R.J. Dennard had base hits and Peoria did not yet have a runner in scoring position.
Peoria finally struck for their first runs of the series in the seventh after a leadoff double from Alvarez followed by back-to-back home runs from Brian O’Keefe and Chris Chinea. Suddenly, it was a completely different ballgame.
Unfortunately, Peoria was not able to put up a tying run in the final two frames. The game and season ended on a play at the plate, with Matt Davis out at home after a Magnueris Sierra single.
Peoria Loses in Two-Game Sweep
Despite a nice comeback in Game 2 of the Western Division semifinals, Peoria was completely outmatched throughout both games. Unfortunately, given the way both teams played in the second half, this result was to be expected. Clinton kept nearly its exact same roster from opening day in April while Peoria has had major roster turnover. This did not bode well for the Chiefs.
When the series ended, the stats backed up Clinton’s dominance. Clinton had 22 hits while Peoria only had 10, five of those coming in the final three innings of Game 2. Clinton also threw two of the Mariners top organizational prospects, and Peoria hitters were not prepared for that difficult one-two punch. From the fourth inning of the opener through the fourth inning of the second game, Peoria hitters had been retired 28 times in 30 possible chances.
There were a lot of things to be happy about with this team. However, there were a lot of holes in the roster when the playoffs came around, and Clinton exploited them.
The LumberKings are currently deadlocked with Great Lakes at one win apiece in the Midwest League finals.
Chris Chinea. The designated hitter was one of only three Chiefs to have a base hit in both games in the playoffs. Chinea had one of the biggest swings in the series with his solo-shot immediately after Brian O’Keefe in the seventh, making Game 2 a one-run game. Chinea ends the season with a .312 average with a .423 slugging percentage, six home runs and a team-best 63 RBI.
Magnueris Sierra. The center fielder was only 1-for-10 in the series. As the team’s best hitter and its leadoff man, this was extremely disappointing. Sierra was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Game 1 while only recording one hit in Game 2. What is worse is that hit led to the end of the game when Joe Kruzel inexplicably sent Matt Davis home to attempt to tie the game. Sierra had a great year, but a dreadful playoff series.
Last Week’s Hot and Cold Players
Eliezer Alvarez (hot). Alvarez had a double in Game 2 and a walk in Game 1, but that was it for the talented second baseman. Alvarez struck out three times in the series.
Ryan Helsley (hot). After being so dominant lately, Helsley was anything but in Game 2. He departed after 5 2/3, allowing four runs in his final start of the year.
Dailyn Martinez (cold). Martinez did not pitch in the two-game series.
Matt Davis (cold). Davis only saw the field to pinch-run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 2, only to get thrown out by 30 feet running home to try to tie the game.
Jery Then, Ronnie Williams and Luke Harrison ended the season on the DL.
Final Season Stats
|Offense||Season Stat||MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)|
|Stolen Bases||103||9 (9)|
|Pitching||Season Stat||MWL rank of 16 (Last week’s rank)|
|HR Allowed||75||2 (2)|
Midwest League Western Overall Standings
|Club (Previous rank)||W||L||Pct.||GB||L10||STRK|
|#Cedar Rapids (2)||78||61||.561||7.5||6-4||W1|
|Kane County (6)||65||75||.464||21.0||7-3||W4|
|Quad Cities (7)||61||78||.439||24.5||3-7||W1|
|* Clinched 1H Playoffs|
|# Clinched 2H Playoffs|
10 Chiefs have been invited to participate in the Cardinals fall instructional league camp that begins this month. Full details on instructs can be found here, with first-hand reports from Jupiter coming, both exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
Follow Alex Kryah on Twitter @ar_Kryah9.
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