For the first time this season, the Moose Jaw Miller Express are dealing with their first bit of adversity.
The local Western Major Baseball League team went into Lethbridge for a Canada Day doubleheader against the Bulls and dropped both games, falling 10-3 and 9-1. The Millers have now lost three straight and four of their last five.
Despite the struggles, Moose Jaw still only sits a half-game back in the Central Division after their hot start to the season and that has head coach Michael Hunt remaining positive that the team can get back on track quickly.
“It's a long season, but we've got a lot of games in a short amount of time, so going 0-2 to start this road trip, we've still got two games on it, so things can turn around just as quickly,” said Hunt after Tuesday's losses.
“You don't want to ever get into too big of a slide, we've just got to remember that it's a short memory game because if you're dwelling on the past, then what's in front of you is going to be awfully hard to do the little things right that we need to do to be successful.”
The two losses on Tuesday followed the script of how the Millers have been losing lately. Their pitching struggled and their offence, despite getting 12 hits in the two games combined, couldn't find a way to bring around the base runners.
“The hits were there, certainly had a lot of them combined, but a lot of singles, not a lot of extra base hits,” said Hunt. “That's something that's happened a little bit in the last couple of games, so we just need to stay the approach. They're going to happen, they're going to come and it's just a matter of being patient and weathering out the storm.”
Lethbridge was anything but perfect in the two games, as they committed eight errors in the doubleheader, but Moose Jaw wasn't able to capitalize on the mistakes. They were unable to put together the big inning to comeback.
The afternoon game saw the Bulls jump out to a 9-0 lead thanks to a six-run third inning and Moose Jaw could only manage single run innings in the fourth, sixth and ninth.
Tanner Spencer struggled on the mound in that game, lasting just three innings and giving up seven earned runs on seven hits with four walks.
The story was essentially the same in the night game, Moose Jaw actually took a 1-0 lead in the third inning before Lethbridge scored three in the third, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and sixth innings, and two more in the seventh to put the game away.
Todd Leavitt had a short outing, going five innings and giving up four earned runs – six total – on eight hits with two walks.
“A little bit of everything didn't work today,” said Hunt. “Defensively we made things hard on ourselves in game one, pitching we threw strikes and if you're going to throw strikes and pitch to contact, then defensively you have sure things up. Offensively, we got our hits, we just didn't get any extra bases.”
The best thing for Moose Jaw is that they get right back on the field on Wednesday night with a trip into Seaman Stadium in Okotoks to face the Dawgs.
“We've seen them now twice – we beat them at home – but we know that they're going to be a tough team and they're playing tougher as of late,” said Hunt. “We're going to have to stay sharp and just try to get all three things average – pitching, offence and defence.”
The Millers and Dawgs hit the field at 7:05pm on Wednesday night and then square off again on Thursday night before Moose Jaw returns home for games on Friday and Saturday against Medicine Hat.