The weather has been somewhat challenging over the last couple of days for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers but the skies cleared this afternoon to allow them to complete two games today, losing the conclusion of Sunday's suspended game 7-4 and picking up a 4-3 win in the day's regularly-scheduled contest.
The big story for Wisconsin today was the second rehab appearance for Aramis Ramirez. He played four innings at third base and went 0-for-2 before rain interrupted Sunday's game and was the designated hitter for Monday's second game, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. He was originally scheduled to play third base again today, but was moved to DH due to wet playing conditions after heavy rains fell overnight and this morning.
"You don't want to take a chance, especially because I injured my leg, so it was smart just to DH and get my at bats in," Ramirez said.
Ramirez got four at bats and three chances to hit with runners in scoring position today. He singled with the bases empty in the first inning, grounded out to short with a runner on second in the third, singled with two on in the fifth and lined out to first base with two on in the sixth.
"Hitting is all about timing," Ramirez said. "Yesterday was kind of rough, and today I had some better swings, saw some better pitches. And I'm right where I want to be right now."
With today's games delayed due to rain and Ramirez not scheduled to play until the second contest, the Brewers third baseman was able to come in a little later and work out with roving hitting instructor Don Money. He reported no issues with the sore hamstring that landed him on the DL and appears to be ready to rejoin the big league team.
"I felt good about his approach and his swings today," Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson said. "I asked him after the game, 'Do you feel good?' And he said 'Yeah, I feel good. I'm ready to go. Thank you very much.' And he was great. Very professional. Just chatted with our players a bit before he left. He's healthy, and I'm sure he can help the Brewers out in that lineup. I wish him all the best."
Ramirez is expected to work out with the Brewers tomorrow and be activated off the disabled list when the team travels to Minnesota on Wednesday.
After Ramirez's final at bat, though, the Timber Rattlers still had some work to do. They went to bottom of the seventh (the final scheduled inning) tied 3-3 and scored a walkoff run on Clint Coulter's walk, Tayor Brennan's single and Francisco Castillo's sacrifice fly.
The rally made a winner out of reliever Trevor Seidenburger, who had an unexpectedly long day. He threw four innings on just one day's rest and allowed a single run on four hits, walking none and recording no strikeouts. It was his fifth win of the season and actually raised his ERA to 1.35 for 2014 with the outing.
"They told me to be ready. Saturday I threw six pitches for the one out and they just said, 'be ready, because you've got to get used to it whenever you move up,'" Seidenberger said.
The Timber Rattlers needed the lefty's services early when starting pitcher Preston Gainey was ejected from the game in the fourth inning for hitting a batter immediately following a home run. Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson said he didn't think Gainey was trying to hit Quad Cities left fielder Ronnie Mitchell, who had homered off of him earlier in the game, but did acknowledge they intended to reclaim the inner portion of the plate.
"Before that particular inning we discussed with him and (catcher Clint) Coulter that they're getting a lot of good swings, there's too much barrel and we're going to have to make somebody uncomfortable by getting inside," Erickson said. "And then it just so happens that the next guy hits a home run. I'm sure emotions were high and he was definitely going to get a pitch inside, and he did.
"But it was something that we needed to do. We need to pitch to both sides of the plate," Erickson said. "If you lay the ball over the middle of the plate you're going to get hurt. And we were getting hurt. I thought it was a knee-jerk reaction. I would completely understand a warning to both sides, but the umpire felt that it was intentional to throw at the hitter and he made a decision."
The ejection put Seidenberger into a spot where he had to warm up on the field instead of in the bullpen, but he stressed the importance of maintaining routine under unusual circumstances.
"You just prepare out there like you're down in the bullpen," Seidenberger said. "As a reliever you've got to come into tough situations sometimes. That was a tough one, but you've got to get prepared like you would out in the bullpen."
Seidenberger allowed a single tally on a solo home run in the sixth inning, snapping a scoreless streak of 21.1 innings. He hadn't allowed a run since his third appearance of the season on April 17. Today, Erickson said the team wanted to get him into the game to capitalize on Quad Cities' struggles against lefties.
"When we looked at their lineup we knew we were going to want to get him in there at some point in the game," Erickson said. "He matched up well with their lineup. They're the best hitting team in the league, and they find hits. They find ways to get on base, but they're significantly better against righties than lefties. And there's no doubt about it, Seidenberger's been the best in our bullpen up to this point so we knew at some point in the game we wanted him on the mound."
Wisconsin has the day off tomorrow, their first scheduled idle day since May 11, but many of them will still be spending the day together. The Timber Rattlers have a golf outing scheduled, and more than 20 players will take part.
"I told everybody in there, it's been a long stretch, thanked everybody for being a part of that. 20-some guys are involved in the golf outing. It's a great event for our community and it's a good day for them to be involved with the people around here. But for those that aren't going to be there, I asked them to get away from baseball, get a mental break, and if anyone asks me about baseball tomorrow I'm going to punch them in the mouth," Erickson said.
With the split Monday Wisconsin is now 26-31 on the season and ranks seventh among eight teams in the Midwest League West Division, but sits just four and a half games back of clinching a playoff spot by finishing in second place in the first half. They'll resume play on Wednesday when they open a three-game series with Cedar Rapids.