The weather is warming up and so are the Sioux Falls Canaries. 

The Birds still have a long way to fly back to the top of the playoff picture, but after winning five of seven, things are trending upward. Especially considering twelve days ago, Sioux Falls lost ten straight games. Amidst their tough season though, manager Steve Shirley says the Canaries are improving.

"Yeah, I think that we are just playing better baseball. We're getting some pretty good starting pitching that's getting us started, and then we are getting key hits. I think when you get all those things, it turns out to be a better baseball game."

In the lineup, Shelby Ford has a team-best .330 batting average, and Chris Duffy leads the Birds with a nine doubles, five home runs, and 16 RBIs. Duffy is providing the Canaries with some solid hitting, and is moving forward one game at a time.

"Every game is a different game, but you have good games and bad games. I had a few good games, and am just trying to add some more to it. I mean, it's one of those days where you could be doing better, but you could be doing worse, too."

Duffy came to Sioux Falls in exchange for Tim Pahuta, who set the team-record for home runs a year ago. Now the slugging first baseman would like to be more consistent, and get a boost off the team's latest surge in the win column.

"Whenever you win some games it is definitely a pedestal for you to step on to improve. You just take that positive energy and have that rub off on you," adds Duffy.

A big reason for the Canaries recent success is their fantastic defense in the field that has allowed their pitching to keep them in some games.

"We're playing very solid defense. For the most part, we've been getting solid pitching. If we can get some level improvement in our offense, and score on a more regular basis, then we are going to become very competitive," says Shirley.

On the mound, the Canaries ace Ben Moore is 3-1 with a 3.11 ERA.  Kyle Vasquez is enjoying an average season with a 2-2 record, and 4.09 ERA. Kyle Ruwe and Joe Bircher got off to a rough start, but a good outing by Ruwe yesterday afternoon hopefully helped boost his confidence. He allowed just one run in 6.2 innings. On the year, Ruwe is 1-4 with a 7.31 ERA. Bircher is 1-3 with a 3.58 ERA.

Sioux Falls wraps up a six-game homestead tonight with the Amarillo Sox. Shirley hopes his team can finish strong before hitting the road for three games in Sioux City and four in Gary over the next seven days.

"Oh, I think it would be big if we could win this game (tonight vs. Amarillo), If we can win this game, it would be winning our third series in a row and from a mental standpoint, we start to feel a lot better about ourselves. If we can get a series each time, it's going to help us move up the ladder.

The Canaries sit in last place with a 11-20 record, and trails North Division leader, St. Paul by nine games. Game time is 7:05 at the Birdcage against the Sox tonight.

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Sioux Falls Canaries