Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2014 Week 15

Carson Kelly

Despite being on the road much of the week, the Class-A club went 5-2 and sit in second place. No longer a teenager, Carson Kelly has been hitting well for the last six weeks.

The Week that Was

This report covers the period from Tuesday, July 8 to Monday, July 14.

The Peoria Chiefs squared off against Clinton in their final home series before a lengthy road trip, and took two of three from the LumberKings behind solid pitching performances. The team then hit the road to take on the Burlington Bees in a four-game set and rallied after losing the first game to take the series, 3-1.

Bottom line: the Chiefs started the week in second place and, after a solid 5-2 showing, remain there, a game behind Kane County, which won the division in the first half of the season.

Game Summaries

Tuesday, July 8: Clinton Lumber Kings 4 at Peoria Chiefs 2

A late Chiefs rally fell short, and the team dropped the first game against the LumberKings.

Arturo Reyes tossed Peoria’s fourth consecutive quality start, allowing just two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out four. The 22-year-old ended up taking the loss, his fifth of the season.

A Clinton solo home run with one out followed by back-to-back singles put the Chiefs down 2-0 in the second inning. They rallied in the seventh. Justin Ringo popped up to Justin Seager, but Seager couldn’t make the play, advancing Ringo to second on the error. Carson Kelly doubled to cut the lead in half.

C.J. McElroy Jr. singled and advanced to third on Kelly’s single. Juan Herrera brought McElroy home by bouncing a single to third, but Steve Bean grounded into a double play to end the game.

McElroy and Kelly combined for four of Peoria’s seven hits, with Herrera, Richy Pedroza, and Luis Perez picking up a hit apiece.

Wednesday, July 9: Peoria Chiefs 4, Clinton LumberKings 3

The Chiefs offense did just enough to win game two of the series.

Ronald Castillo, fresh off the DL, smacked a double in the second inning and scored on a base hit by Michael Schulze in the second inning. In the third, the Chiefs struck again. McElroy walked, stole second and scored on a single by Kelly.

Arturo Reyes gave the lead up in the fourth, surrendering an unearned run thanks to a misplayed line drive by Vaughn Bryan. Reyes struck out seven and allowed up three runs (two earned) on three hits and a pair of walks in his 4 2/3 innings pitched.

Castillo struck again in the fourth to give Peoria the lead on a home run smacked into left field, but the edge was short-lived as a triple and a sac fly tied the game in the top of the fifth.

Schulze singled in a run in the eighth, giving the Chiefs the lead for good. He, Castillo and Kelly had two hits each for Peoria, with McElroy picking up the seventh. Steve Sabatino earned his fifth win with two perfect innings.

Thursday, July 10: Peoria Chiefs 5, Clinton LumberKings 3

Peoria cranked out ten hits en route to a series win and a 4-2 home stand.

Chase Brookshire pitched well again, yielding just two runs (one earned) on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. The lefty walked one batter and struck out three. Brandon Lee, Zach Loraine and newly-promoted Josh Lucas combined for four hits and a run in 3 2/3 innings, striking out six batters among them.

The Chiefs got a run in the first on a pair of singles and a stolen base to take a 1-0 lead. Luis Perez hit a leadoff homer in the second inning to extend the lead to 2-0. In the fourth, the Chiefs struck for three runs. A one-out double by Rafael Medina scored Castillo and Perez. Herrera singled home Medina to make it 5-1.

Perez went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. Herrera picked up two hits in four at-bats and a run scored from the leadoff spot. Peoria’s 6-9 hitters combined to go 6-of-12 with three runs, a walk, and three RBI.

Friday, July 11: Burlington Bees 5, Peoria Chiefs 4

Blake McKnight was hit hard in his 4 2/3 innings. The righty gave up five earned runs on ten hits and struck out just one batter. Kevin Herget pitched a sparkling 2 1/3 innings, striking out seven of the eight batters he faced. The eighth batter reached base.

The Chiefs entered the final frame trailing by four, but tried to rally. Bryan tripled and scored on a single by Herrera. After Ringo was hit with a pitch, Castillo reached base on a fielder’s choice and an error, scoring Herrera. One out later, Perez singled to plate Ringo. Medina struck out to end the game with the tying run on second.

Bryan paced Peoria’s offense. The outfielder tallied two of Peoria’s four hits, both of which went for extra bases, and scored a run. Herrera picked up a base hit and a run scored, as did Steve Bean. Medina and Pedroza had Peoria’s other hits.

Robert Stock pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out a batter.

Saturday, July 12: Peoria Chiefs 10 at Burlington Bees 6 (6 ½ innings)

The Chiefs offense carried the team in a big way in a rain-shortened game.

Luis Perdomo showed flashes of his debut performance, which is not good. He picked up the win, but allowed six earned runs on seven hits and two walks. The righty struck out five batters in his five innings of work.

Peoria struck in the first inning. Bryan tripled and scored on a single by Herrera to give the Chiefs the early lead. They tacked on another run in the second and a pair in the third.

Two-three run innings were the difference in the game. Ringo singled with one out in the fifth and scored on a double by Pedroza. One batter later, Rafael Medina homered, his first of the season, to give Peoria a 7-4 lead.

Burlington got two more in the bottom of the fifth, but the Chiefs added three more runs on a pair of walks and a pair of doubles. The game was called in the middle of the seventh inning due to weather.

Sunday, July 13: Peoria Chiefs 4 at Burlington Bees 3 (12 innings)

Rob Kaminsky’s start was not as good as normal, but the bullpen was strong in relief and the Chiefs’ offense did enough to win an extra-inning tilt.

Kaminsky allowed two runs on three hits in his six innings pitched. The lefty walked two batters and struck out three. After striking out at least four batters in every start since May 10, Kaminsky has struck out just four batters total over his last two.

After falling behind 1-0 early, Peoria tied it in the seventh on a double by Steve Bean. Bean moved to third on a flyout and scored on a sac fly by Michael Schulze. Burlington took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning, only to have Peoria rally again on a pair of singles and a groundout that plated Ringo.

The game stayed tied until Perez launched his second home run this week into left field, scoring Ringo. Zach Loraine came on and gave up a solo home run in relief, but retired the other three batters he faced for the save.

Bean went 3-for-6 with a run scored and a strikeout. Ringo went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and two walks. Sabatino, Josh Lucas, and Loraine combined to yield just five hits and a run in their six innings of work. Lucas struck out three for his first win this season.

Monday, July 14: Peoria Chiefs 6 at Burlington Bees 0

Arturo Reyes, Herget and Jhonny Polanco combined for a six-hit shutout of the Bees in the finale of the four-game road series.

Reyes got things started with six innings of five-hit, no walk baseball. The righty picked up his sixth win of the season, striking out four batters in the process.

Peoria’s offense did all of its scoring in the middle three frames. Ringo led off the fourth with a single and moved to third on a double by Carson Kelly. A wild pitch by Burlington’s Greg Mahle brought home Peoria’s first run.

Three runs scored thanks to three singles, a pair of walks, and an error in the fifth inning. Another Burlington error in the sixth allowed Kenny Peoples-Walls to reach base, and a single by Richy Pedroza with two outs allowed him to come around to score.

Peoria’s first five hitters went a combined 7-for-20 with four runs, three RBI, and four walks. Only two of the Chiefs’ nine hits went for extra-bases.

Benefit Auction

The niece and God-daughter of manager Joe Kruzel suffered a brain aneurysm over Memorial Day weekend. The Chiefs are holding an auction to benefit her on their MiLB Auction website. Items include game-used items from current St. Louis Cardinals Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter and more. Items are listed on the Peoria Chiefs auction site, peoriachiefs.milbauctions.com.

Included among the auction items is a three-month subscription to The Cardinal Nation. As you are already a subscriber, consider it as a gift to another.

Strikeout Machine

Chris Perry has been promoted to Palm Beach, but he left a mark on the Chiefs’ record books. His 80 strikeouts allowed him to post a 14.7 strikeout/per nine innings ratio, which is highest among any reliever in team history with at least 49 innings pitched. Ben Julianel set the previous mark with a 13.7 mark in 2003.

Power Surge

The Chiefs went 78 2/3 innings between home runs. Since Mason Katz smacked one in the team’s doubleheader June 29, no Chief hit a long ball until Ronald Castillo launched one Tuesday.

As a team, the Chiefs hit five home runs this week, raising their total on the season to 43. This one week accounted for roughly 11.6 percent of Peoria’s total home runs this season (5/43).

Who’s Hot

Carson Kelly – Kelly has really flipped the switch recently. Since the start of the month, he is batting .303/.395/.394 with five RBI and three runs scored. After an atrocious May saw him hit just .198 in 22 games, Kelly has turned things around at the plate. In 29 games since May ended, Kelly is hitting an even .300 with nine extra base hits and 18 runs batted in. Strikeouts have not been a problem for Kelly, who celebrated his 20th birthday Monday. The left-handed hitter has struck out just 33 times in 260 at-bats this season.

Steve Sabatino – Sabatino hasn’t given up an earned run yet in 2014. The lefty tossed five scoreless innings, striking out five and allowing one hit and a walk last week. The 24-year-old has fit the very definition of a lefty specialist. Even though he has pitched just 14 1/3 innings since the end of May, his 19 appearances rank third on the team among all relievers this season and second among relievers still with the team. Left handed hitters are hitting just .115 off Sabatino while righties aren’t faring much better, batting a measly .136 in nearly twice as many at-bats.

In the month of July, Sabatino has allowed just one hit and two walks in his 8 1/3 innings pitched. He’s also struck out eight batters in that time and picked up his third save this season July 2 against Kane County.

Who’s Not

Alex Reyes – Reyes has yet to perform to the level he did in April, when the righty won two games and had a solid 2.60 ERA. In the two months since, Reyes is 3-5 and has given up at least two runs in seven of his last ten starts. In two of those seven starts, the runs allowed have been over six.

The strikeouts are still there, as the 19-year-old has averaged around six strikeouts per game the entire season. One of his issues has been his fly out/groundout ratio, which has spent most of the season around .70 but was over three times that number his last start against the LumberKings.

Justin Ringo – I never really expected to have to put Ringo in this section, but his performance in the team’s last ten games has been below average. As a caveat, Ringo has gone 6 for his last 12 with six runs and four RBI. So it appears he may be breaking out of his slump a bit.

But prior to the last three games against Burlington, Ringo had tallied just two hits in 22 at-bats and one RBI. As Ringo is one of the main offensive threats on the team, the Chiefs need him to stay consistent and produce at the plate. If the recent games are an indication of how the 23-year-old will perform from here out, the team should not worry too much.

Rafael Medina – Medina has played in Peoria for just over two weeks and hasn’t shown too much from the plate. The 22-year-old is hitting just .216 in his 12 games with the Chiefs, and has amassed seven strikeouts in just 37 at-bats. Medina’s 2014 season is a bit of an enigma from an offensive standpoint, since the right-handed hitter had totaled five at-bats the entire season at two different levels before joining the Chiefs. His batting average has gone up each season spent in the minors, culminating in a .282 average for the Gulf Coast Cardinals in 2013. If he can get his numbers back up to that range, he could prove to be a viable replacement for Mason Katz in Peoria’s lineup.

Injuries

Michael Holback remains on the 7-day DL with right forearm stiffness.

Brandon Lee had to leave the game July 10 after facing just one batter due to an injured foot suffered while backing up a play at the plate.

Transactions

Outfielder Ronald Castillo was activated off the 7-day disabled list July 9. That same day, pitcher Joe Scanio was activated off the DL and sent to State College. Reliever Chris Perry was promoted to Palm Beach and bullpenner Josh Lucas joined Peoria from State College.

Random stat of the week

The Chiefs’ win Thursday in the finale against Clinton was the team’s 50th of the season. It is the fastest Peoria reached the 50 win mark since 2006. That team won 50 games in 83 games. The 2014 Chiefs did it in 89, five days later than eight years ago.

Peoria Chiefs Team Stats

The pitching continues to dominate, but the offense did score 16 runs in the final 16 innings of the Burlington series, so the chance still remains for an upswing.

Offense Season # MWL rank of 16   Pitching Season # MWL rank of 16
BA .253 T-9th   ERA 3.48 T-3rd
Runs 390 2nd Fewest   Strikeouts 763 5th
OPS .678 2nd Lowest   Walks 290 6th-Most
Doubles 134 2nd Fewest   HR allowed 48 5th-Fewest
HR 43 T-3rd Fewest   Saves 27 4th
Steals 83 5th Fewest        

Midwest League Western Division Standings

Peoria has played well to start the second half, and has set itself up nicely as the season begins to enter the home stretch. Roughly a month and a half remains and the Chiefs maintain a three-game lead over Wisconsin for the second playoff spot.

Club W L PCT GB L10 Streak
Kane County Cougars (CHC)* 17 7 .708 - 6-4 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) 16 8 .667 1.0 7-3 W3
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 13 11 .542 4.0 5-5 W3
Burlington Bees (LAA)^ 12 12 .500 5.0 4-6 L3
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) 12 12 .500 5.0 4-6 L3
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 11 13 .458 6.0 6-4 L1
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 8 16 .333 9.0 3-7 W1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 7 17 .292 10.0 5-5 W1

* first-half division winner
^ first-half wild card winner

What’s Next

After an off day Tuesday, the Chiefs continue their season-long 10-game road trip with a three-game set against the West Michigan Whitecaps. Righty Chad Green (2-3, 3.62 ERA) goes for the Whitecaps, and while the Chiefs have yet to officially name a starter, it is Chase Brookshire’s turn in the rotation. After that set finishes, the Chiefs head to South Bend for three games before returning to Peoria for a six-game home stand.



Follow Garth Shanklin on Twitter @GarthShanklin.

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