At the unofficial midway point of the Frontier League season, the Ottawa Titans are on a season-high losing streak of five games, after dropping three consecutive games against the Quebec Capitales. With a 35-23 record, the Titans sit in second place in the East Division, but are now well back of the aforementioned Capitales in first place.
The final series of the first half of the season was significant. Not only did it push the Capitales well clear of the Titans in the standings, but it also dropped Ottawa all the closer to both the Sussex County Miners and the New York Boulders in the battle for second place. But the Titans are already looking ahead to that fight, and they haven’t lost sight of the battle with Quebec. They are still optimistic about their chances, and aren’t allowing this setback to define their season.
“All we can do right now is fight,” Titans’ second baseman Jackie Urbaez said. “I know things haven’t been going our way, and it has been a rough past two or three weeks with just one day off, but it’s a grind. You just have to keep working and take these four days into the All-Star break. We were swinging it pretty well at the end of the game, so we need to keep that rolling into the next four days, and when we get back on Friday, it’s back to business.”
Titans manager Bobby Brown laments the opportunities his ball club has missed in the past five games, but knows that struggles happen, saying he knew this wasn’t going to be a cakewalk to make the playoffs.
“They aren’t going to go away, and neither are we,” he said, referring to the other teams chasing them down in the standings. “That’s why we wake up in the morning. It’s to compete and play baseball.”
Finding the problem isn’t very challenging for the Titans. All series long, they got themselves into holes early in the game, and although they put together great at-bats and some long rallies towards the end, they found themselves just one or two hits short in every game.
“We’ve [gotten] off to a slow start,” Urbaez said, diagnosing the Titans’ problems over the five-game losing streak. “If we started a little earlier with the bats, put a little more pressure on their defence, we wouldn’t be in the situation that we are in.”
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There are a lot of things that could factor into that, but one of the most obvious is the number of games that the team has played in the month of July. With Ottawa being forced to play on what would normally be an off day for a one-game series in Tri-City for an Independence Day celebration, plenty of travel, and a pair of doubleheaders, rest has come at a premium.
“It has been a grind, playing 19 games in 17 days,” Urbaez said. “It takes a toll on our bodies. With these four days, we’re going to rest up and we’ll be back to how we were playing in early June and mid-June. We’re gonna keep battling, and do what we do, which is win games.”
Although Urbaez is excited to have a couple of days off to rest, he’s already looking forward to the next opportunity to get back on the field, and to face the Capitales, in particular.
“They are a really good ball club on that side,” Urbaez admitted. “We’re also a really good ball club on this side. I trust these guys with my life, and I know we are going to learn from this and it’s not going to happen again. We’re going to come out swinging, we’re going to come out ready to go, and we’re going to handle business like we usually do.”
“When we see them again, it will be a completely different [Titans] team that you saw this series,” Urbaez said with confidence.
The losing streak has been difficult for the Titans to stomach, but Brown is stressing the importance of learning from it, and coming back better when it matters the most.
“That’s the best team in the league right there,” said Brown. “We feel like we’re right there with them. Their record is a little better than ours, they just beat three games in a row in games where we had the winning run on base each time. Are we close? Yea. But do we have to take a stride? Yes, so we’re going to try to make that stride.”
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