MIDLAND, Mich. - The Great Lakes Loons conclude today what has already been a successful homestand while hoping to build momentum for a stretch against divisional leaders.
The Loons are 4-2 on their current seven-game stand at Dow Diamond. They'll wrap up a series with Bowling Green today at 5:05 p.m., and then begin a six-game stretch against Dayton and South Bend - the two teams currently at the top of the Midwest League Eastern Division standings.
Great Lakes is 20-22 on the season and five games behind East leader Dayton. South Bend is 4.5 games in front of the Loons; the first- and second-place finishers in each of the season's two halves qualify for the postseason. The Loons have 28 games left in the first-half.
Up first for the Loons, however, is the business at hand. Today, they'll wrap up a week-long stay at Dow Diamond when right-hander Zachary Bird (2-5, 4.57 ERA) faces Bowling Green righty Jake Faria (2-2, 3.28). They'll also look to bounce back from a 5-2 loss Saturday night that was, in part, the result of several defensive lapses.
But Loons manager Bill Haselman - a 13-year major league veteran - stresses a short-memory approach.
"You learn from it and move on," said Haselman. "Players are going to make mistakes at this level. The most important thing is to not keep making the same ones over and over."
The Loons still lead the MWL in a variety of offensive categories, including in runs with 229, but would like to see more consistent situational hitting. With the Loons trailing 1-0 Saturday, Spencer Navin led off the fifth inning with a triple but was stranded there after three consecutive outs.
"We've done that a little too much lately, so that's something we have to work on," said Haselman. "It's like I've said all along - as long as we do the little things we're OK."
Haselman likes his chances today with Bird on the mound. The 19-year-old from Jackson, Miss., has a 2.34 ERA over his last four starts, which includes a solid six-inning effort against Bowling Green on May 2.
"I like that we have Bird on the mound," said Haselman. "He really competes hard out there."
Faria is a former 10th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays who is coming off of his worst start of the year. The Cerritos, Calif., native gave up seven earned runs in only 3.1 innings against Lansing on May 12. He has not pitched against the Loons this year.
Several Loons rank at or near the top of the MWL offensively. Joey Curletta has the league's highest average (.353) and also leads in total bases (80). Kyle Farmer is tied for first with 29 RBI, while Malcolm Holland is second with 22 stolen bases and leads in walks with 31.
Today is Family Fun in the SUNday at Dow Diamond. Kids will get to run the bases free, courtesy of Farm Bureau Insurance.
The Great Lakes Loons are an 8th year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information, call 989-837-BALL or visit www.loons.com.