July 20th, 2024

Mavs not concerned with down week

By JAMES TUBB on June 25, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Mavericks pitcher Lane McEachern delivers a pitch in the seventh inning of the Mavs' 10-2 loss Saturday at Lethbridge to the Bulls.


The Medicine Hat Mavericks are coming off a long week on the diamond.

The Mavs dropped four of six games over the last seven days, getting outscored 50-35.

Coming off a two-game sweep in a weekend series of the Moose Jaw Miller Express on June 15 and 16, the Mavs were drubbed 11-3 by the Weyburn Beavers and split a two-game set with the Millers on Tuesday (15-7 win) and Wednesday (5-4 10-innings loss).

They held on to beat the Swift Current 57’s 8-7 on Friday before giving up 10 runs in two straight losses, falling 10-2 Saturday at Lethbridge to the Bulls and getting beat 10-3 Sunday at Athletic Park by the Sylvan Lake Gulls.

“It was a tough week for this group,” head coach Kevin Mitchell said.

“That’ll happen, it’s a long season. Not that long, but it’s long enough where you’re going to have spells like this. What is more important to me, is how we respond. Can we get it heading back in the direction that it should be.”

The Mavs remain in second place of the East division following the week with a record of 13-10, sitting two games up on the third place Miller Express. The only damage from the tough week is how much the first place Regina Red Sox have distanced themselves from the rest of the division.

The Red Sox are riding an 11-game winning streak entering play Monday, putting them five games ahead of the Mavs. Regina (18-5) sits first place in the WBCL in wins, ahead of the West division-leading Okotoks Dawgs who are 17-2 but have had to postpone three games already due to weather.

The Mavs lost in different fashions throughout the week, falling in blow-out fashion three times that saw a big inning knock them out early.

They lost a close extra-innings contest against the Millers where they held a brief lead in the top of the eighth before surrendering two runs in the bottom of the frame. They ultimately tied it up in the top of the ninth before failing to score the auto runner in the 19th, setting Moose Jaw up for the walk-off win.

Looking back on the week, Mitchell says they need more from every aspect of the game.

“There’s just no other way around it, we did not play well this week,” Mitchell said. “There’s one game (the Moose Jaw loss) this week that could have gone our way, other than that, they were pretty one sided when we lost. Again, it’s not a panic button type situation by any stretch. It’s just frustrating knowing what we’re capable of. To play the way we did this week, I’m looking for it to get better in all areas.

“I trust this group, we’ve got some really talented baseball players, we’re all pulling in the same direction. This week is could be a 4-2, 5-1 kind of week. We’ve got to get our focus collected as a group and if we can do that, we’ll be alright.”

Mavs’ centre fielder Brody Gardner echoed the skipper’s statement and he says there isn’t any panic in the locker room. He spoke with the News after Sunday’s loss and says games like that are ones they have to flush and keep moving forward.

It’s an approach he’s seen from and one he’s liked how the group has conducted themselves with.

“I’ve liked how we’ve stayed positive through it and we haven’t let it just beat us down and beat us in the ground,” Gardner said. “If we can keep staying positive then we’ll continue to win and then the losses will be easier to move on from.”

A positive sign for the Mavs coming out of the weekend was the matching of last year’s home run total. Gardner hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning for the Mavs’ 21st blast of the season. They surpassed the 2023 56-game total of 20 home runs, doing so in only 23 games.

The home run was Gardner’s third of the season, an increase from last year as the Asheboro, N.C. product hit just one home run all year, a solo home run in Game 3 of the East finals against Moose Jaw.

He’s enjoyed more slow trips around the diamond and says the ability in the Mavs’ lineup gives him confidence through the lull they are experiencing.

“It’s good contributing because I didn’t get to contribute much last year,” Gardner said.

“With the power we have in the lineup, it’s actually insane, it’s crazy to see that anybody one-through-nine can just bang it around at any time.”

Mitchell has also enjoyed seeing more of the long ball this season compared to last year and says he would like to see it spread out a little bit more. He says the ability they have to generate the offence they do, scoring 156 runs – the seventh most in the league, illustrates there is more to be achieved than as of late.

“If we had been anemic to this point in the season, that frustration would be more profound and it would be more like concern,” Mitchell said. “But knowing that we are capable of much better offensive days, we’re capable of much better on the mound as well and we’ve seen that. It is helpful to know that it’s been there. It’s obviously not going to be every day but it has to be more frequent. And we’ve got to minimize the big inning that we’ve been giving up, it’s chunks that have really put us in tough spots.”

The Mavs had off days Monday and Tuesday before they head to Swift Current on Wednesday. They’re off Thursday before opening up a stretch of five straight games. The Mavs head to Okotoks on Friday for the first of two games against the defending WCBL champion Okotoks Dawgs.

They return to Athletic Park on Sunday, hosting the Edmonton Prospects before the Weyburn Beavers come to Medicine Hat for a Canada Day game on Monday. The Mavs have a rematch with the Gulls on July 2.

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