WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Brewers to face Auburndale's Zimmerman on the mound this evening
MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers will try to even their home series against the Washington Nationals tonight at Miller Park.
The Brew Crew continues to have the second-best record in Major League Baseball at 47-31, with a four-and-a-half game division lead in the National League Central. Washington extended its lead in the National League East to two games with a 3-0 victory over the Brewers last night at Miller Park. Before that loss, Milwaukee had been the National League's scoring leader since June first with five-point-seven runs per game. Near the end last night, Carlos Gomez said he thought better of laying down a bunt, just to try-and-extend what was his Major League-leading streak of 35 games in reaching base. He also ended his career-high 18-game hitting streak. Gomez said he was going to be a man and not drop a bunt in that situation. As he put it, "The last at-bat made me feel better" for the next game.
If the past is an indication, the Milwaukee Brewers will see dozens of jerseys with the opponents' starting pitcher tonight. That's because central Wisconsin resident Jordan Zimmermann will start for the Washington Nationals against the Crew. Whenever he pitches at Miller Park, it seems that half his home town of Auburndale -- population 700 -- makes the trip, proudly wearing Zimmermann's No. 27. Lots of UW-Stevens Point supporters like him too, since he starred with the Pointers before turning pro. Zimmermann himself has done the Brewers no favors. The right-hander is 4-0 lifetime against the Crew, with a 2.19 ERA. In two starts at his home state ballpark, Zimmermann has only allowed one run in 12 innings. Recently, he's been "lights out," with a 0.84 ERA in four June appearances, with a 5-4 overall mark. Opponents have only hit .153 against Zimmermann -- but still, he's just 2-2 for the month after getting no run support in his last two starts. Zimmermann says "that's just the way baseball is," and he expects things to turn around. The Crew hopes it won't happen tonight, as Milwaukee tries to even the series following a 3-0 loss last evening. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will start for the Brewers. He's 2-0 in his last three starts, and is 5-4 for the season with an ERA of just over 3.25.
It's been said that almost everyone on a Major League team needs to have "career years" to win a pennant. And Milwaukee Brewers left-fielder Khris Davis is starting to play his part. In his first full season in the Majors, Davis is tied for the team lead in homers with 13, with 38 RBI's and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .802. Davis has especially gotten hot over the last month, batting .319 with nine dingers and 26 driven in. He said he found a quirk in his swing that he corrected, and he's once again hitting with power to the opposite field in right. At the start of the year, Davis said he couldn't trust his hands enough to swing the other way -- and now, it's just happening. Davis took over the left field job full-time last July, when Ryan Braun had his season-ending drug suspension. Now, Braun has moved to right to give Davis a chance to blossom at his natural position in left. He had a good start, hitting .308 by April 11th before plunging to .212 over the next month. In late May, Davis had an eight-game hitting streak -- and he continues to ride the coat-tails of that.
After a day off, the Class-"A" Midwest League returns to action this evening. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers -- the league's only unbeaten team at 4-0 for the second half -- opens a series at Kane County. The Beloit Snappers, with a 2-and-2 start, plays at Burlington.
The La Crosse Loggers will go for their eighth straight victory tonight when they play at Willmar in a battle of Northwoods League division leaders. The Loggers have a one-game edge over Lakeshore in the South Division, with a league-high 19 victories after a 3-2 win at Wisconsin last night. Willmar has the circuit's best winning percentage with a 17-6 mark. The Stingers are first in North Division by a game-and-a-half over Waterloo. La Crosse edged the Wisconsin Woodchucks 3-2 last night. Willmar lost at Rochester in 13 innings, 6-5. The Woodchucks open a series at Madison, which lost to Alexandria 2-0. Rochester is at Eau Claire, which fell at Thunder Bay last night 10-5. Green Bay is at Wisconsin Rapids. Rapids was shut out by Green Bay 9-0 last night. Kenosha plays at Kalamazoo, after the Kingfish lost to Battle Creek 10-5. Lakeshore, which had its game postponed last night, hosts Battle Creek this evening.
Wisconsin has plenty of soccer fans -- but you wouldn't know it by the TV ratings for Sunday's U.S. tie with Portugal at the World Cup. In Metro Milwaukee, the state's only metered TV market, the U.S. match attracted just over 58,600 households -- the 48th lowest among 56 metered U.S. markets. Nationally, it was the most watched soccer match in U.S. history. The southeast Wisconsin rating was 6.4. The final national rating was 9.6. ESPN, which televised the match, said an average of 18.2 million Americans watched it. The Milwaukee Brewers could have had something to do with the area's relatively low World Cup rating. The Crew was playing at Colorado while the U.S. match was on. That drew about two-thousand more households than Sunday's World Cup match.
University of Wisconsin senior Kimberly Dinh had a five-stroke lead going into today's final round of the Michigan State Women's Open. Dinh, a native of Midland, shot a ten-under-par 62 in her opening round yesterday at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan. Ashlan Ramsey was in second place at five-under-67.
Madison golfer Steve Stricker was scheduled to be honored at the White House today, along with his teammates who won the President's Cup last fall. President Obama was the honorary chairman for the event, in which a team of American-born golfers defeated a squad of foreign-born players 18-and-a-half to 15-and-a-half. Ten members of the International squad were expected to join the U.S. contingent -- which also was to include Tiger Woods. They were scheduled to have a short meeting with Obama, plus a reception in the White House State Dining Room. Stricker won three of his five events at last year's Cup. Stricker remains at No. 18 in the new World Golf Rankings released today. Stricker remains on a limited schedule, tending to family and business matters back home while playing in the most prominent tournaments. Jerry Kelly of Madison rose one spot in the new rankings to 135th. That's after he tied for 31st at the PGA's Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson missed the cut at the Travelers. He dropped 24 spots this week, to No. 324.
Ryan Helminen of Menasha was tied for third place going into today's second round of the PGA Professional National Championship in South Carolina. Helminen shot a four-under-par 68 in his opening round yesterday at The Dunes in Myrtle Beach. And he was at even par after two holes of his second round this morning. It's a 72-hole tournament mainly for club pros. Helminen is a PGA teaching pro at the Ridgeway Country Club in Neenah. He's been to the national pro tournament every year since 2008, and he finished 24th in 2011. Helminen is also a former State Open champion.
Milwaukee Bucks' co-owner Marc Lasry spilled the beans today on who his organization will most likely draft with the Number-two overall pick on Thursday night. Lasry told a Rotary and Press Club "Newsmaker breakfast" today the Bucks would take either Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins or Duke forward Jabari Parker. Lasry made it clear that the Bucks want a player who can help from Day-One, and as he put -- "I think both players would make a phenomenal addition to our team ... You're not going to be disappointed either way." The pre-draft talk was that the Bucks would keep the Number-two pick and not deal it away. Lasry said the team's decision got much easier when Kansas center Joel Embiid had foot surgery last Friday. He said the choice of Wiggins or Parker would depend on Cleveland does with the top overall pick Thursday, plus as Lasry put it, "who contacts us and different things we hear from the draft pick."