Amos RAMON has seen a change in the Winnipeg Goldeyes during their latest homestand -- the kind of change he likes to see heading into the final month of the American Association regular season.
"I think we're actually starting to get some confidence now. That's what it looks like," the third-baseman said. "Guys are going up to bat with a sense of urgency now and more confidence. I think it's easier to hit when the guys in front of you are hitting too. Hitting is contagious, and I think if one guy gets hot, we all start to feed off each other."
The Goldeyes have done exactly that in the first three games of their series against the Lincoln Saltdogs, scoring 26 runs on 44 hits. The Fish have recorded at least 10 hits in each of their last eight games, and of the 28 games they've played in July, they've reached at least 10 hits in 20 of them. The surge at bat is important, especially heading into tonight's game against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
"That will help for the Fargo series and give us some momentum as we head into that one. We haven't beat Fargo at all this year," Ramon noted.
The Goldeyes are 0-6 against the RedHawks this season.
Ramon started to see an improvement in his team after they returned from their Can-Am League road trip that ran July 11-20.
"I still go back to that road trip in Quebec and I think a lot of guys were just tired and ready to go home. Once we got home, we started getting comfortable and started figuring out that this is where we want to be, and the guys started to feed on that confidence."
Upon returning home, the Goldeyes saw a vast improvement in their record at Shaw Park. At the start of their final homestand of July, they were 10-13 at home. Heading into the final game against Lincoln Thursday night, they improved to 17-16 at home.
Goldeyes manager Rick Forney believes consistent batting has helped out his bullpen, resulting in more wins.
"If you're pitching well, sometimes your offence can create a little more flow too.
"But we're swinging the bat better right now, and when you're scoring some runs and you're giving your pitcher some room to breathe, then it's a little easier to go out on the mound and pitch and not have to worry about making one mistake and the game being dictated on it," Forney said.
In hindsight, Ramon realizes the Goldeyes' chances of reaching the playoffs could have died a while ago. However, he believes the team should never be counted out as the playoff race tightens up.
"About two or three weeks ago, our season could have been over pretty quick.
"If we would have been playing the way we had been, our season could have been done then," Ramon said.
"But we've given ourselves a chance to actually get into the mix again. As long as we keep playing our ball, we have a chance of getting in there somehow.
"It doesn't matter how you get in as long as you get there."