Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Brewers begin series with Nats' tonightWisconsin Sports
-- The Milwaukee Brewers will try to extend their winning streak to six games tonight, when they play at Washington.
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Milwaukee Brewers will try to extend their winning streak to six games tonight, when they play at Washington.
The Nationals clinched a playoff spot last night, and their magic number is eight to win the National League East division. The Brewers have won 23-of-their-last-29, and they’re now in second-place for the final NL Wild Card spot, two-and-a-half games behind Saint Louis. Milwaukee has had trouble at Nationals Park, losing five-of-its-last-six contests there. But the Crew is playing some of its best road baseball of the year, after sweeping the Pirates in Pittsburgh for three games. Right-hander Shaun Marcum will start for the Brewers tonight against Nationals’ right-hander Edwin Jackson. Marcum is 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA. But he’s 0-1 in five starts since spending two months on the disabled list with tightness in his right throwing elbow. Marcum has not had a decision in his last four outings, and he’s coming off a rough outing last Saturday at home against the New York Mets, in which he gave up four runs in four innings. Jackson is 9-10 with a 3.89 ERA. He gave up four runs in five-and-a-third innings last Saturday, when the Nats' lost by a run to Seattle. And he has given up 14 runs in 15-and-a-two-thirds innings this month.
The Brewers have acquired an experienced catcher for the stretch run. The team announced this afternoon that it picked up 34-year-old Yorvit Torrealba from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for cash. It’s too late for new acquisitions to make a team’s playoff roster – but Torrealba could still help the Brewers as they try to get past the Saint Louis Cardinals for the second and final National League Wild Card spot. Torrealba batted .233 for Texas and Toronto this year with four homers and 14 RBI’s in 59 games. He’s been in the Majors since 2001, and has also played for San Francisco, Seattle, Colorado, and San Diego.The Brewers have acquired an experienced catcher for the stretch run. The Brewers say Torrealba will be in uniform tomorrow night, when the Crew plays the Nationals in Washington.
Matt Flynn expects to be very helpful to the Seattle Seahawks when they host Green Bay on Monday night – even if he doesn’t play a single down. Flynn was Aaron Rodgers’ backup for four years with the Packers. And even though he was hoping to get a starting job elsewhere, Flynn is now backing up starting rookie quarterback Russell Wilson from Wisconsin. Wilson said Flynn has been very helpful this week. After working with Mike McCarthy’s offense for four years, Flynn was certain to pass on a lot of information about his old team. Flynn has tried to be diplomatic. He said he’s proud of the way he played in the pre-season with the Seahawks – and he cannot control anything, so all he can do is make him and the team better, and remain confident. Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll said Flynn has done well and made a tremendous impression with the Seahawks. But Carroll said Wilson has exceeded everyone’s expectations both on-and-off the field. Wilson said Flynn still battles for the job, and he’ll be ready at a moment’s notice if something happens. The Seahawks and Packers are both 1-1 going into Monday night’s contest.
Receiver Greg Jennings was back on the practice field today for the Green Bay Packers. He sat out yesterday, as he continues to get over a groin injury 12 days ago against San Francisco. Coach Mike McCarthy said Jennings felt good after getting some rehab – and he took part in some of the team drills in preparation for Monday night’s game at Seattle. Linebacker Jamari Lattimore sat out again. Rookie safety Sean Richardson was limited with a bad hamstring. And the Packers listed six other players as limited – James Starks, Randall Cobb, Tom Crabtree, Davon House, Josh Sitton, and C.J. Wilson. McCarthy could not say when Starks might return to a game, saying that his turf toe is still painful.
Cable TV customers in eastern Wisconsin are about to get the NFL Network back. Bloomberg News reported today that the NFL has finally reached an agreement with Time Warner Cable to carry the league’s year-round channel as part of its basic tier. It will also carry the NFL Red Zone as part of its special sports tier of channels. Time Warner is the nation’s second largest cable carrier, with about 12 million subscribers around the country. It serves pretty much the eastern half of the state, including Milwaukee and the Fox Valley. Most other parts of Wisconsin get Charter cable, which brought back the NFL Network a year ago. Bloomberg said Time Warner customers should get the channel back in time for Sunday’s league games.
Four more WIAC football teams will play non-conference games against conference opponents tomorrow. Fourth-ranked UW-Whitewater hosts Stevens Point – and UW-Stout plays at River Falls. In both cases, the teams will face each other again on October 27th. But the league wanted them to schedule an extra WIAC opponent instead of going out of state, to save on travel costs in the wake of a tight state budget. Whitewater ended a 46-game winning streak and lost its Number-One national ranking when the Warhawks fell to Buffalo State at home last weekend, 7-6. Tomorrow, the school will honor retired coach Bob Berezowitz. He’s a former quarterback for the Warhawks, and he coached the team for 22 years before retiring in 2006. Berezowitz set the table for Whitewater’s national success, after taking the ‘Hawks to the NCAA Division III title game in ’06 just before he called it a career. Whitewater has been back there every year since, and has won the last three championships over now-Number-One Mount Union. Also tomorrow, UW-Oshkosh plays at Alma of Michigan. Last night, 16th-ranked Platteville crushed Eau Claire in a non-conference matchup, 49-19.
Conference play continues tomorrow for football teams in the Midwest Conference. Carroll, Saint Norbert, and Lake Forest are all 2-0 in league games – and Carroll has the best overall record at 3-0. Carroll plays at Saint Norbert. Lake Forest is home against Knox College. Ripon is at Illinois College. Beloit hosts Grinnell. And Monmouth plays at Cornell. Elsewhere, Lakeland College plays at Carthage. Most teams in the Northern Athletics Conference are off this weekend, before their league play begins next Saturday.
University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema says freshman kicker Jack Russell will get at least some playing time tomorrow, when the Badgers host Texas El-Paso. Bielema promised after yesterday’s practice that Russell would get involved in some way. Sophomore Kyle French has been handling all of Wisconsin’s kicking duties. But he missed a 36-yarder attempt last week against Utah State – which triggered a missed extra point and a kickoff that went out of bounds. Assistant Charlie Partridge said French is a good kicker – and he’s confident that he’ll get his issues straightened out. Bielema said Russell has kicked well at practice the last couple of weeks – and he made a 52-yarder at practice yesterday.
Former University of Wisconsin quarterback Jim Haluska has died. The 79-year-old Haluska passed away yesterday from a massive heart attack, after he was inducted last month into the UW Athletic Hall-of-Fame. Haluska led the Badgers to their first Rose Bowl appearance in 1952. He was a Racine native and graduated from Saint Catherine’s High School in 1950. Haluska played in five games for the Chicago Bears in 1956.