Brewers-Twins Preview


Because of the recent success of the Milwaukee Brewers' lineup, Aramis Ramirez might not take his usual spot in the batting order when he returns from a strained left hamstring.

Ramirez is expected to serve as the Brewers' designated hitter Wednesday night against the Twins as they continue their four-game, home-and-home series in Minnesota.

Milwaukee (35-24) averaged 4.7 runs and batted .273 in its 22 games without Ramirez after averaging 4.0 runs and hitting .248 in its first 37 contests. The Brewers matched a franchise record with nine straight games of 10 or more hits May 21-30 with Carlos Gomez batting fourth in most of those contests.

Gomez is batting .357 in his 11 games as a cleanup hitter, Ramirez's spot for 33 of his 34 games. Ramirez was batting .252 with five homers and was tied for the team lead with 21 RBIs before his injury.

"Since I've been here I've hit fourth, but it doesn't really matter," Ramirez told the team's website. "The bottom line is winning games, and the first four guys in the lineup, (Jean Segura), (Ryan Braun), (Jonathan Lucroy) and then Gomez, they're doing a pretty good job, so there's no reason for us to change the lineup."

Ramirez has one hit in his last seven at-bats against Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco (3-5, 5.70), who aims to build on his first win in six starts. Nolasco gave up one run over six innings in a 6-1 victory at the New York Yankees on Friday after going 0-3 with a 5.58 ERA in his prior five starts.

Nolasco is 2-3 with a 7.58 ERA in eight career starts against Milwaukee and suffered a 6-1 loss for Miami on June 10 in his lone matchup last year. He gave up four runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Marco Estrada (5-2, 4.03) is trying to win a career-best third consecutive start. The right-hander, who has also won three of his last four decisions, gave up three runs over six innings against the Chicago Cubs on Friday and got plenty of support in an 11-5 victory.

Estrada is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three career starts against Minnesota (27-29) and gave up four runs over seven innings in his lone matchup last season, a 4-1 loss at Target Field on May 29.

The Twins had dropped eight of 11 before a 6-4 victory Tuesday at Miller Park. Josh Willingham hit a three-run homer in the third inning and Brian Dozer went 3 for 3 with a two-run shot.

Willingham, who returned from a fractured wrist May 26, is 9 for 22 (.409) with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games.

"Hopefully I can just keep being consistent. That's the goal," Willingham said. "I don't know about pain, just getting it back more than anything."

Willingham is 1 for 7 with three strikeouts against Estrada in his career but that lone hit was a home run. Joe Mauer is 3 for 7 versus Estrada with a pair of doubles.

Rickie Weeks is 10 for 21 (.476) with two homers and a triple against Nolasco in his career. Gomez is 3 for 6 with a home run.

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