WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Estrada looking for third straight win in Brewers-Twins match-up tonight
MINNEAPOLIS - Marco Estrada will try to win three consecutive starts for the first time in his career, as the Milwaukee Brewers take on the Twins in Minneapolis tonight.
The right-hander has won three of his last four decisions. Estrada is coming off a quality start against the Chicago Cubs last Friday, in which he gave up three runs in six innings of an 11-to-5 Milwaukee victory. Estrada is 5-2 overall, with an ERA of 4.03. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco will start for Minnesota. He was winless in five starts, until he gave up one run in six innings in a 6-1 Twins' victory against the New York Yankees last Friday. Nolasco is 3-and-5 overall, with a 5.70 ERA. He's 2-and-3 lifetime against Milwaukee, with an ERA of over seven-and-a-half. Nolasco was with Miami for most of those appearances. The Brewers and Twins are 1-1 in their home-and-home series, after the Twins won 6-4 last night at Miller Park.
The Milwaukee Brewers' four-game home-and-home series with the Minnesota Twins moves to Minneapolis tonight. They'll be in an American League ballpark for the first time in the series -- and that means the designated hitter will come into play. Brewers' third baseman Aramis Ramirez is expected to be the DH, as he eases his way back from a strained left hamstring he suffered on May 10th. His absence is partially why manager Ron Roenicke reworked the top of Milwaukee's batting order. The Brewers have averaged almost five runs a game in the 22 contests that Ramirez missed. Ramirez says winning is the bottom line, so he won't mind if he doesn't get his cleanup spot back -- for now, anyway. The Brewers have won five of their last seven -- and they've expanded their lead in the National League Central Division to five games over second-place Saint Louis.
The Brewers' Wall of Honor will be unveiled a week from Friday outside the north end of Miller Park. A private ceremony for inductees, families, and guests will take place late in the afternoon of June 13th -- and a pre-game ceremony will honor the inductees before the Brewers play Cincinnati that night. The Wall of Honor will recognize a host of Brewers' players, coaches, and managers throughout the team's 45-year history. Fifty-eight people meet a host of criteria in their time with Milwaukee -- and they'll be part of the Wall of Honor's first induction class.
Ryan Braun dropped from third place to sixth among National League outfielders in the latest fan voting results announced this afternoon for the Major League All-Star Game. Braun held a starting spot in the NL outfield a week ago, in spite of his recent rib-cage injury and his drug suspension from last season. Carlos Gomez is now the highest-ranking Brewer among National League outfielders. He's fifth with 819,000 votes. Braun has 751-thousand votes, and Khris Davis is 14th in the fan voting. Jonathan Lucroy moved up one spot from last week. He's now third in the voting for the NL starting catcher. Aramis Ramirez is third among National League third basemen, and Jean Segura is third among NL shortstops. The All-Star Game is set for July 15th at Target Field in Minneapolis. Gomez and Segura were Milwaukee's All-Star representatives from a year ago.
Brewers' prospect Andy Moye of Double-"A" Huntsville has been named the Southern League's pitcher of the week. The 26-year-old gave up just one hit in six scoreless innings last Friday. It was his second start since Moye spent six weeks on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. Moye was the Brewers' 15th round draft pick out of Georgia Southern in 2011.
The Green Bay Packers' two top receivers are both in their contract years. Jordy Nelson says he'd like a new deal before the start of the regular season in September -- while Randall Cobb says he has no control over what happens. Nobody knows whether the Packers will be able to re-up with both standouts, both of whom have said they want to return. Nelson says he's not sure if his agent has started meaningful contract talks yet. Cobb says he doesn't want to know -- and it's all in the hands of his agent and GM Ted Thompson. Nelson is entering the final season of a three-year, $14-million extension. The seventh-year pro had his best season in 2013 with 85 catches for 1,314 yards. Nelson is definitely a bargain for the Packers, with the 34th-highest salary among NFL wide-outs. Cobb is entering his fourth season with the Pack, in the final year of his rookie deal. He missed 10 games with a leg injury last season, but he came back in time to help the Packers make the playoffs with a long fourth-down touchdown catch near the end of Green Bay's regular season finale at Chicago. Meanwhile, fans attending this week's OTA practices are getting their first look at second-round receiver Davante Adams from Fresno State. He missed last week's workouts while attending the players union's "Rookie Premiere" event.
Packers' coach Mike McCarthy says he will not re-shuffle his offensive line for the second year in a row. Veteran Josh Sitton will stay at left guard, after moving from the right side a year ago. Second-year pro David Bahktiari has established himself at the left tackle spot. McCarthy said Bahktiari is a lot stronger than he was last season. For now, the center's job is up in the air after Evan Dietrich-Smith left for Tampa Bay. T.J. Lang stays on at right guard. Bryan Bulaga is expected to return from an injury to claim the right tackle job -- but McCarthy says Don Barclay will have a chance at Training Camp to take over that spot. The coach said Barclay has earned the opportunity to compete for a starting spot. McCarthy also notes that Barclay can play all five positions on the line.
Green Bay Packers' coach Mike McCarthy says he likes what he sees from last year's injured players who are back at full strength in the current OTA practices. Tackle Bryan Bulaga missed virtually all of last season with an ACL knee injury. Ditto for running back DuJuan Harris. Corner Casey Hayward also missed most of 2013 with a bad hamstring that nagged him all year. Those three have taken part in a week-and-a-half of OTA workouts. McCarthy says the wounded returnees feel they have a lot to prove -- and it's good to have them back.
Green Bay free-agent tight end Jermichael Finley has reportedly visited the New England Patriots. ESPN said it happened last Friday. His agent said Finley visited an NFL team that day, but he wouldn't say which one it was. The Patriots' tight end situation is in limbo, as Rob Gronkowski still recovers from torn ACL and MCL ligaments. Finley's situation is also in limbo, after having fusion surgery last winter in the wake of his severe neck injury against Cleveland last October. Finley also visited Seattle in March, but the Seahawks lost interest after that. Packers' coach Mike McCarthy has said he'd like to have Finley back. Green Bay has an open roster spot after linebacker Victor Aiyewa was cut last week.
After having yesterday off, teams in the Class-"A" Midwest League return to action this evening. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are at home against Cedar Rapids, while the Beloit Snappers open a home series against Peoria. The Timber Rattlers are second-to-last among the eight teams in the Western Division. Wisconsin is 26-31 for the first half, 11-and-a-half games behind front-running Kane County. Beloit is last at 13-and-a-half back, with a record of 24-33.
Teams in the Northwoods League will begin new series tonight. The Lakeshore Chinooks will go for their seventh straight victory, when they host the Wisconsin Woodchucks in Mequon. The Chinooks scored a 5-1 victory over Kalamazoo last night. The Woodchucks dropped a 6-5 contest to the La Crosse Loggers. That ended the Loggers' five-game losing streak. They'll play at Wisconsin Rapids, which lost to Battle Creek 7-3. Kenosha and Madison will hook up again in Wisconsin's capital city, on the heels of an 8-nothing Madison rout. The Eau Claire Express will host Thunder Bay, after the Express crushed Alexandria 8-2. Green Bay hosts Kalamazoo, on the heels of a 6-3 Green Bay win over Duluth. After eight games, Lakeshore is 6-2 with a one-game South Division lead over Green Bay, Madison, and Kalamazoo. Eau Claire, Rochester, and Saint Cloud all lead the North at 6-2, one game ahead of Willmar.
University of Iowa guard Devyn Marble worked out for the Milwaukee Bucks today, as the team continues to audition possible second round selections for the June 26th NBA Draft. Marble averaged 17 points and about three-and-a-half assists for the Hawkeyes last season. UW-Milwaukee senior Jordan Aaron was also expected to take part in today's session -- but he pulled out due to a minor bruised knee.
The Milwaukee Bucks gave a pre-draft audition Monday to the older brother of Bucks' forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Twenty-one year old Thanasis Antetokounmpo played with Delaware this past season in the NBA's Developmental League. He averaged 12 points, four rebounds, and a pair of assists in 50 games. Thanasis was among six more players who had workouts with Milwaukee, as it considers candidates for three second-round picks in the June 26th NBA Draft. The Bucks also got a look at guards Cameron Clark from Oklahoma and Melvin Johnson from Arkansas State -- and forwards Fuquan Edwin of Seton Hall, British native Ovie Soko of Duquesne, and Josh Huestis of Stanford. \
Steve Stricker of Madison bounced back up this week in the new World Golf Rankings. After dropping three spots a week ago, Stricker rose two places to 17th in the wake of a solid performance at the Memorial Tournament in which he tied for sixth. Stricker had been sliding down the World Rankings as the result of his second year on a limited schedule. But he still ranks high enough to be exempt from qualifying for this month's U.S. Open -- something of which his fellow Madisonian Jerry Kelly and Pewaukee native Mark Wilson did not have the luxury. Both Kelly and Wilson were taking part in 36-hole qualifiers Monday for the Open, which is normally played on Father's Day weekend. Kelly rose four spots to 129th in the World this week. Wilson dropped six spots to 291st, after he failed to make the cut at the Memorial. Mini-tour pros Charlie Delsman of Colgate and Garrett Jones of Rewey also played in the qualifiers. Others seeking to qualify around the country include River Falls native Neil Johnson, Asian tour player Dan Woltman from Beaver Dam, ex-Marquette golfer Mike Van Sickle, amateur James Gunsalus from Menomonee Falls, and Patrick Stolpe of Muskego. Steve Stricker of Madison is exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open, to be played June 12th-through-15th at Pinehurst-No. 2 in North Carolina.
Former Milwaukee Wave coach Keith Tozer is leading the U.S. five-on-five futsal soccer team at the Four Nations Tournament this week in Newcastle England. Eight players return from a 14-member American squad that won the tournament a year ago with a 3-0 record. The U.S. will open against Qatar on Thursday. They'll play Cyprus Friday, and the host English national team on Sunday. Former Wave player Philip Suprise is playing futsal for the first team. He's says there's no room for anyone to cover you, since the futsal game is played without walls on a hard surface. It often forces goalkeepers to flow into the field of play. U.S. goal-tender Danny Waltman of the Missouri Comets says futsal goes so quickly, it commands perfect movements.
For the second year in a row, UW-La Crosse has been named the men's Division-Three program of the year by the U.S. Track-and-Field and Cross Country coaches' association. The Eagles had top-three national finishes in cross country and outdoor track -- and they won their second straight Division III indoor title this past winter. UW-Oshkosh was third in the overall program standings, and Eau Claire was fourth.