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Giants hanging tough despite late snag on road trip

PHOTO. The Fort McMurray Giants are back at Shell Place for six of the next eight games against fighting for a playoff spot against division rivals Lethbridge and then Edmonton. The Giants square off against the Bulls for a four-game series from July 23-26, 2019. Supplied by Fort McMurray Giants/Dan Lines Photography.

The Fort McMurray Giants return home after a tough road trip against the best of the WCBL.

The trip started well with back-to-back wins against the Beavers in Weyburn, Sask., 2-1 and 7-6.

However, following a heart-breaking 5-4 defeat in the finale, the East-leading Regina Red Sox swept Fort McMurray at Currie Field last weekend sending the Giants home on a four game losing streak.

With the Giants now in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season, Manager Ray Brown says the team must find a way to seal the deal on winnable games.

“Tighten up those leaks that we had with our pitching and defence, and get ready these next two big series with Edmonton and Lethbridge. It’ll determine our destiny.”

Throughout the road trip, the Giants starting pitching was a strong point but as Brown eluded to, the bullpen must improve to avoid more late-inning collapses.

“Starting pitching has done really well for us. What we have to do is bring some guys out of the bullpen that know where the strike zone is.”

The Giants currently sit tied for fourth place in the West Division with a record of 20-22.

Pivotal homestand

Although the Giants tied the team record for wins in a season, the next stretch of games could make or break their year.

Fortunately, Shell Place is the venue for six of the next eight games for the club.

They host the Lethbridge Bulls for a pivotal four-game series, before tackling the rival Edmonton Prospects in another four-game home-and-home set.

The Giants have fared well so far this season against the Bulls winning three of their four meetings including a two game sweep in late June where they outscored the Bulls 21-8.

Brown said that similar to the Giants, the Bulls have also made improvements since their last meeting.

“Lethbridge is a very good team. They’ve tightened up their defence and pitching, and their offence has come alive.”

Since the sweep, Lethbridge has won 12 of their last 19 games.

In the end, Brown wants to leave nothing to chance.

His message to his players is that they control their destiny.

“We always encourage good play, but we also let them know this is the time when we got to show the fans of Fort McMurray what this team is capable of doing.”

The Giants are two and a half games behind the Bulls for second place in the West Division.

The four game series against Lethbridge kicks off Tuesday night at Shell Place. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.