While the Brewers were wrapping up their fourth straight win in Miami Monday night, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were also having a good night in Appleton. In their final home game of the first half they rode a solid outing from pitcher Tyler Wagner and some timely hitting to an 8-2 win over Clinton.
"I thought that was probably one of the cleanest games, one of our best overall games," Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson said. "We were good on the mound, Wagner went 6 and gave up single runs. If you're going to give up runs, single runs give your team a chance to win a ball game."
As Erickson mentioned, Wagner pitched six innings and gave up just two runs on six hits, walking one and striking out six. It was a bounce-back performance for the 2012 fourth round pick, who had gotten knocked out of his previous start early.
"It was definitely good for my confidence to get back on the hill. It's always hard when you've got to wait five days for the next start, but it was good for me to come out and pound the strike zone," Wagner said.
Wagner allowed his single runs in the first and fourth innings, and in both cases the Timber Rattlers offense bounced back and tied the game in the bottom half of the same inning.
"I think it takes a lot of pressure off for your offense to have faith in you, to go back into the dugout and have them put up a run for you. I think that shows that the offense believes in you," Wagner said.
He was the beneficiary of a pretty good all-around night for the Wisconsin offense, which had eight singles, four walks, two hit by pitches and a pair of stolen bases. Left fielder Michael Reed was on base three times with two hits and a walk, and has now reached base in 30 consecutive games.
"I feel like I'm having pretty solid at bats most of the time and that's my biggest key," Reed said. "I'm not always going to get a hit but I'm just putting together good, solid approaches to my ABs."
"He's a guy that has a pretty good eye, takes quite a few pitches, can put the ball in play, stays inside the ball and has some speed," Erickson said. "So he's definitely a guy that's capable of doing that. Hopefully, now that you've mentioned it he's able to continue that. But yeah, he needs to get better in certain aspects of baserunning and some outfield play but he's putting together some good at bats, for sure."
This was Wisconsin's second consecutive win but only their third in nine opportunities in June. Sunday's win snapped a five game losing streak.
"We've just got to keep having successful days like this, putting successful at bats together and we'll come out on top more often than not," Reed said.
"I think it's good for the team to get a two game win streak going. It's good that we're starting to get on the right track, playing some good baseball," Wagner said.
Wisconsin wraps up the first half of the season with a six game road trip before the Midwest League All Star Game on June 18. Erickson will be managing in his first All Star Game, and said he's looking forward to the experience.
"We're going to a great place in Dayton, they've got a great facility and there'll be a bunch of people there, I think they have over 10,000 people planned and yeah, you're going to see the greatest players in our league. So it'll be an enjoyable experience," Erickson said.
While Wisconsin is gone, Fox Cities Stadium will host the 2013 WIAA State Baseball Tournament. The first game of that event is scheduled for 8 am Tuesday morning, so crews are working hard to prep the facility.
Taylor's first year
While the Brewers work to sign their 2013 draft picks, one of their top 2012 picks is starting to heat up. Tyrone Taylor, who the Brewers selected with the #92 overall pick last year, is batting .306/.378/.479 in his last 31 games as a 19 year old in the Midwest League.
"I'm just staying within myself, trying to put the barrel on the ball and hit it the other way. It's working out well right now," Taylor said.
A year ago right now Taylor was in a similar position to 2013 second round picks Devin Williams and Tucker Neuhaus: a high school senior getting ready to launch his pro career. If he could go back a year, he said he'd tell himself to stay humble.
"It's a humbling game, you're going to go through some trouble and some adversity but you've got to get through it."
Taylor has certainly had his share of growing pains over the last 12 months. His professional debut season ended after just 18 rookie league games due to injury, and he posted just a .586 OPS in his first 17 games in A ball.
"In the beginning I wasn't doing so hot, I just tried not to get too down on myself, keep having fun, stick with the routine and right now it's starting to pay off," Taylor said.
Looking forward, Taylor's goal is to stay active and in his routine for the rest of his first full professional season.
"Stay healthy, stay on the field, keep in a solid routine and hopefully my stats work out for themselves," Taylor said.
Wisconsin got some good news before tonight's game when pitcher Austin Blaski was named as an alternate to the Midwest League All Star Game. Blaski was a 21st round pick in the 2012 draft and has a 2.03 ERA in eleven appearances for Wisconsin.
Blaski found out about his new plans for next week while getting ready for tonight's game.
"I was in the training room, just doing some stretching. It's great news to hear," Blaski said.
Blaski last pitched for Wisconsin on June 1, and is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday before appearing in the All Star Game on Tuesday.
"You've got to keep your routine you're always doing," Blaski said. "It'll just be a fun time with the other guys, hanging out. I'll get to enjoy another baseball game."
Blaski cited his control as being the primary cause of his success this year.
"I'm just trying to command my pitches and mix, I think my control's going pretty good so I can throw any pitch in any count. Just keeping hitters off balance, and that's going pretty good for me thus far," Blaski said.
He'll be one of three pitchers representing Wisconsin in the game. Damien Magnifico and Ryan Gibbard are the others. In addition, manager Matt Erickson and his staff will coach the Western Division squad.