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WISCONSIN SPORTS BRIEFS: Axford no longer a Brewer

MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers traded reliever John Axford to the Saint Louis Cardinals this morning for a player to be named later. The move was made just a day before the August 31st deadline for trading players who clear waivers and can be eligible for the post-season.

The Cardinals lead the National League Central Division by a game over Pittsburgh – and those two teams are about to open a crucial three-game series tonight. The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch said Axford was due back at Pittsburgh in time for tonight’s contest. He had just left Pittsburgh with his former Brewer teammates last evening, after the Crew took 2-of-3 from the Pirates. While it seemingly makes sense for the 30-year-old Axford to be headed to a contender, some will certainly question sending a player to one of Milwaukee’s top divisional rivals. Axford began the season as the Brewers’ closer, but he lost that role after a slow start. He failed to get a save with the Crew this year, as he built up a 6-7 record in 62 relief appearances with a 4.45 ERA. Two years ago, Axford set a Brewers’ record with 46 saves – and he was the winning pitcher in the deciding Game-Five of the 2011 National League Division Series against Arizona. In a statement, Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin said quote, “John has been a big contributor to the Brewers, and we do not go to the playoffs in 2011 without his outstanding performance.” The Brewers recalled right-hander Alfredo Figaro from Triple-“A” to take Axford’s roster spot. Figaro is 2-3 for the Crew this year.


The Brewers are 21-18 since the All-Star break, and they’ll try to improve on that record tonight against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Crew just returned home from a 4-2 road trip. They’ll play a three-game Interleague series against an Angels’ team that’s had a season almost like Milwaukee’s -- with problems early, which catching their stride as of late. The Angels are 60-and-72, but they’ve just won two-of-three from Tampa Bay, the American League Wild Card leader. Anaheim pitchers have combined for a solid 1.87 ERA after winning five-of-their-last-six – all on the road. The Brewers just took two-of-three from Pittsburgh, which is only one game back in the National League Central race, and will play first-place Saint Louis in a three-game series this weekend. Milwaukee is 59-74, and they’ve moved three games ahead of the last-place Chicago Cubs in the Central. Brewers’ rookie Scooter Gennett has the hot bat for the Crew. He’s batted .431 since August fifth. Right-hander Wily Peralta will start for Milwaukee tonight against Angels’ veteran right-hander Jered Weaver. 


The final weekend of regular season play begins tonight in the Class-“A” Midwest League. The Beloit Snappers will host Burlington again, after 5-3 Snappers’ victory last night. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are at home against Quad Cities once more. That’s after a 6-3 Rattlers’ defeat. The Rattlers are playing out the string, 15 games behind second-half leader Cedar Rapids in the Western Division. Beloit is 12 games back, but the Snappers will compete in next week’s playoffs after winning the first-half crown in the West. Bowling Green enters the weekend with a one-and-a-half game edge over Great Lakes. South Bend won the East in the first half. Tonight, Peoria plays at home against Clinton. Kane County is at Cedar Rapids. Bowling Green plays at South Bend. Dayton is at Great Lakes. West Michigan hosts Fort Wayne. And Lake County entertains Lansing. 


Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he would have liked the team to play better in the second half last night, when the Packers lost their pre-season finale at Kansas City 30-8. But the coach said he got what he came for – no new injuries his starters, and lots of film on all of his players. That film is being evaluated today at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. General manager Ted Thompson must decide by 5 p.m. tomorrow which players to cut to get the Pack down to its regular season roster of 53. Twenty-two players will have to be cut. After last night’s game, McCarthy said Don Barclay won the starting job at right tackle over Marshall Newhouse. He also singled out defensive backs Chris Banjo and Micah Hyde for their solid play throughout the pre-season. The Packer offense struggled again, as quarterbacks Vince Young and B.J. Coleman failed to produce any touchdowns while generating just 218 yards of total offense. Starters Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, and Clay Matthews all sat out last night. McCarthy said the Packers have geared their preparations for the start of the regular season a week from Sunday at San Francisco. For now, he says it’s a matter of making the necessary adjustments – and he vows to be fully ready when practices for the 49’ers begin in earnest on Monday. 


University of Wisconsin center Dan Voltz will play in tomorrow’s season opener in Madison against UMass – but he won’t start. Coach Gary Andersen says guard Dallas Lewallen will start in the middle of the offensive line, as Voltz continues to get over a hamstring injury. Andersen said Voltz had two good practices this week, and he’s expected to play against the Minutemen. Ryan Groy will start at left guard, Tyler Marz at left tackle, and Rob Havenstein at right tackle. It has not been determined yet whether Kyle Costigan or Zach Matthias will start at the right guard spot. Andersen said his goal is to get up to eight offensive linemen in the game early. 


Tickets are still available for Saturday’s Wisconsin football season opener against UMass in Madison. More information is available at The UW is also announcing 13 improvements at the 80,321 seat Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. They include new video boards and a new sound system, a new concession provider and beverage options, and a new spot for the Badgerville pre-game party just outside the stadium. UW officials say they’ll have the same carry-in policy as a year ago for fans at Camp Randall – but there will no longer be smoking allowed within the confines of the stadium. The designated smoking areas have been eliminated. 


Former Packers’ quarterback Ty Detmer has been enshrined in the College Football Hall-of-Fame. Twenty-four former players and coaches were inducted last night during a ceremony in Atlanta, where construction is underway for a new Hall-of-Fame facility. Detmer was honored for his four seasons at BYU from 1988-through-’91. He won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award, finishing his college career with 121 touchdown passes and just over 15-thousand passing yards. Detmer was Brett Favre’s back-up in Green Bay from 1993-through-’95. He went to play eight more NFL seasons with Philadelphia, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Detroit. The other Hall-of-Fame inductees included Art Monk, Art Shell, Dave Casper, and coach Jimmy Johnson.


Wisconsin NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth will go for another solid performance on Sunday night, during the Sprint Cup’s AdvoCare-500 in Atlanta. Kenseth, who’s from Cambridge, won his series-high fifth race of the year last week, when took the title at the Irwin Tools Night Race in Bristol Tennessee. Paul Menard of Eau Claire is entered for Sunday night’s event – along with Travis Kvapil of Janesville and Beloit-born Danica Patrick. The Nationwide Series’ drivers are also in Atlanta for the Great Clips-Grit Chips 300 tomorrow night. No Wisconsinites are in that event. The Camping World Truck Series is in Canada for the Chevy Silverado-250 on Sunday in Bowmanville. Johnny Sauter of Necedah will try to improve on his ninth-place spot in the point standings. 


After taking the first round off, Madison golfer Steve Stricker will returns to the PGA Playoffs this weekend. Both Stricker and Madison’s Jerry Kelly are among the Top-100 in the Fed-Ex Cup standings who qualified for the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston. Stricker is 28th in the Fed-Ex point totals, as he continues a limited schedule this year. Kelly is 87th – and he’ll have some ground to make up this weekend. That’s because the Top-70 in the point totals advance to the third Fed-Ex tournament, the BMW Championship next weekend near Chicago. The Deutsche Bank even runs from tomorrow through Labor Day at the TPC Boston course in Norton Massachusetts.  On the senior PGA Champions Tour, Rhinelander native Dan Forsman is part of the field for the Shaw Charity Classic in Canada. The three-round tournament begins tomorrow in Calgary, Alberta. 


Two more ex-University of Wisconsin rowers have qualified for Sunday’s finals at the World Rowing Championships in South Korea. Ex-Badger Grant James helped the U.S. men’s quadruple sculls team win its semi-final heat yesterday. Former Badger Kristin Hedstrom was part of the U.S. lightweight women’s double sculls team that advanced with a second-place finish in its semi-final. They joined former Wisconsin rowers Vicky Opitz and Andrew Gallagher, who helped their teams qualify earlier for the world finals.  



In NFL exhibition football…

Kansas City 30, Green Bay 8

In Major League Baseball…

Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 0

Detroit 7, Oakland 6

Kansas City 3, Minnesota 1

In the Midwest League…

Beloit 6, Burlington 5

Quad Cities 6, Wisconsin 3

Cedar Rapids 5, Kane County 2

Clinton 3, Peoria 2

Bowling Green 5, South Bend 3

Great Lakes 3, Dayton 0

West Michigan 2, Fort Wayne 0

Lake County 6, Lansing 2