While the Brewers were enjoying an off day on Monday, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were wrapping up a four-game series with the Burlington Bees at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. 2,172 fans braved the threat of thunderstorms and came out to the park for a beautiful day but an unfortunate result, as Wisconsin lost 4-3.
All four Burlington runs scored in the sixth inning against Wisconsin starter Victor Diaz and reliever Trevor Seidenberger, who combined to allow the first four batters they faced in the inning to reach on two hits and two walks. The first three runs were charged to Diaz, snapping a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings for the 20-year-old Venezuelan right hander.
Those three runs were the only blemish against Diaz, who allowed six hits and two walks over five innings. He also had a 16-inning scoreless streak in May and has a 3.59 ERA on the season despite being two full years younger than his average opponent in the Midwest League. He threw 84 pitches in the game and 52 were strikes.
"He was trying to get ahead with the fastball, paint it inside and outside and play with (the hitters') mind, and when they got two strikes just try to use his off speed to his advantage," Timber Rattlers shortstop Angel Ortega said, translating for Diaz.
"He's been doing a nice job every time he goes out there," Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson said. "He's a great competitor, throws the ball over the plate and mixes his pitches well. Unfortunately in that sixth inning he kind of got a flare into right field, then another base hit and a walk. We were hoping we could keep him in there and maybe get a ground ball double play out of the situation and see if he could finish the inning. But once we had the walk and the bases loaded 'Berger (Trevor Seidenberger) was ready to go and we thought that was going to give us the best option in that situation against those hitters."
The Timber Rattlers have been using Diaz in a tandem system as a pitcher, designed to limit the strain on young arms and allow more pitchers to remain stretched out as starters. As a result, Diaz has pitched mostly shorter outings this season while sharing opportunities with other pitchers. Diaz said he was still "feeling great" when he ran into trouble in the sixth inning and wouldn't use fatigue as an excuse, but his 84 pitches were the most he's thrown in a start this season.
"Victor was rolling pretty good there and doing what he's been doing, putting up zeroes," Erickson said. "He did a nice job. His pitch count got up a little bit, we had the bases loaded and nobody out and Seidenberger ready to go for a situation. We put him in there and he threw some good pitches, it's just unfortunate we had two pitches get away, and the walk and the base hit. A lot of times when you give up big innings they come back to haunt."
The big inning came back to haunt Wisconsin today, as they fell behind 4-2 and were unable to respond. They plated a single run on Taylor Brennan's bases loaded walk in the eighth but couldn't capitalize further, and also stranded runners in both the seventh and ninth innings. Second baseman Chris McFarland had two hits in the game but was caught stealing and picked off first base. Shortstop Steven Halcomb also had a pair of singles, and scored the run in the eighth.
Timber Rattlers outfielder Omar Garcia scored a run in the game, going 1-for-4 with a double and his 31st stolen base of the season. He also survived a scary moment in the top of the ninth when he collided in the outfield with center fielder Johnny Davis. Garcia was down for several minutes but is expected to be ok.
"Him and Johnny both move pretty well, that was a pretty good collision. But he just got the wind knocked out of him, he'll be fine," Erickson said.
Even with the loss, Wisconsin went 17-8 in the month of June. They're 6-5 in the second half of their Midwest League schedule, which continues on Tuesday when they host Cedar Rapids in the first of a three-game series.