WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Brewers host Pittsburgh for a weekend series
The National League Central could become a two-team race soon, if the Milwaukee Brewers can sweep third-place Pittsburgh for three games starting tonight at Miller Park. The Brewers have a one-and-a-half game lead over second-place Saint Louis, and they're six games up on the Pirates -- who've lost seven of their last eight. Fourth-place Cincinnati has dropped to 10-and-a-half back, after losing to Atlanta last night. The other division contenders, including the Brewers, were off. Milwaukee has amazing success over Pittsburgh at Miller Park, with a 53-and-13 record since the start of 2007 while averaging six runs in those games. This year, the Crew is 5-and-1 against Pittsburgh at home, and 10-and-3 against the Pirates overall. The Bucs did get a boost this week when All-Star center-fielder Andrew McCutchen returned to the line-up after having a broken rib. Pittsburgh is 65-and-62 overall. The Crew is 71-and-56, with the National League's second-best record. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will start for the Brewers tonight against Pirates lefty Jeff Locke.
The Green Bay Packers will play two home exhibition games in the next seven days, starting tonight against Oakland Raiders. It will be the first Lambeau Field visit for Charles Woodson, James Jones, and C-J Wilson since they left Green Bay. Woodson and Jones are expected to start tonight, and get a lot of playing time. The Packers expect to play their starters at least into the second quarter. They're still auditioning players for several roster spots -- including tight end, where the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel now says Brandon Bostick had a slight fracture in his right leg fibula. Bostick was hurt while catching a pass last Saturday against Saint Louis, and reports say he could be out until October. That gives rookie Richard Rodgers and the returning Andrew Quarless a chance to nail down the starting spot. Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner will be in the mix as well -- and perhaps rookie Justin Perillo.
The Wisconsin men's basketball team will only play once this season against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. The newly-expanded Big Ten Conference announced its regular season schedule yesterday -- and it gives Bo Ryan's Badgers a tough stretch at the end. Wisconsin will play four of its final six conference games on the road, including the final two at Michigan and Ohio State in early March. The Badgers will open their conference season at home on New Year's Eve against Penn State. The team announced its non-conference schedule earlier. The highlight is the Battle-4-Atlantis Thanksgiving tournament in the Bahamas, where they could end up playing three Top-10 teams in less than a week.
In golf, Jerry Kelly of Madison is off to a slow start in the P-G-A Playoffs. Kelly is tied for 102nd among the 125 players at the first of four Fed-Ex Cup tournaments, the Barclays. Kelly shot a three-over-par 74 yesterday at Paramus New Jersey. He's the only Wisconsin player to qualify for the playoffs, which run through September. Bo Van Pelt is the first round leader at six-under-65.
NASCAR Truck Series' leader Johnny Sauter of Necedah placed fifth last night at the UNOH-200 in Bristol Tennessee. Sauter remains the Camping World Truck circuit's leader weith 487 points -- eight more than second-place Matt Crafton. Brad Keselowski won the race, making him just the 25th driver in NASCAR history to win races on all three major circuits. However, officials said after the race that his truck measured too high on its rear spoiler. Two other drivers had the same problem, which was found in post-race inspections. Possible penalties will be considered next week.
Former U-W Oshkosh baseball coach Tom Lechnir says he just wants the truth to prevail, by filing a federal lawsuit over his firing from just over a year ago. Lechnir said university officials wrongly blamed him for a 285-thousand-dollar debt on a building project at the school's baseball stadium. Lechnir contended that there was no such debt, and that Oshkosh officials diverted stadium funds to another sports complex without telling donors. His lawsuit was filed this week in federal court. It said U-W Oshkosh officials conspired to get rid of him -- and he has suffered losses of earnings as well as pain-and-suffering. The school said it would not comment. A Winnebago County judge upheld his the non-renewal of his contract in March, saying the school followed proper procedures. Lechnir's baseball teams went 728-292-and-1 during his tenure at U-W Oshkosh, and his Titans went to nine N-C-A-A Division-Three World Series with 12 W-I-A-C titles.