Not only did the Milwaukee Brewers snap the eight-game winning streak of the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, but they also got a key piece back in the lineup.
The Brewers activated third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game and optioned outfielder Caleb Gindl to Triple-A Nashville.
On the disabled list since July 8 with a left knee injury, Ramirez started at third base and hit cleanup. Pulled prior to the top of the sixth inning for Jeff Bianchi, Ramirez went 0-for-3 with a fly out to the warning track in his return.
“It feels pretty good to be back on the field; it has been awhile,” said Ramirez, who wanted to play the field Tuesday instead of serving as the designated hitter. The Brewers hope sitting out 31 games will help Ramirez begin to return to his usual form. After hitting 27 home runs and producing 105 RBI last season, Ramirez has just five home runs and 26 RBI in 55 games this season.
The 35-year-old first sprained his knee sliding into second base during a spring training game this season and suffered the same injury in early April. Ramirez was placed on the disabled list on April 6 and missed 23 games before being activated on May 3.
Patella tendonitis caused Ramirez the most pain and forced him to the disabled list on July 8. Though he has missed 31 games, the veteran third baseman declined to go on a minor league rehab assignment.
Like usual, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke will ease Ramirez back into the swing of things by pulling him early from games for now. He’ll likely need regular days off, but the Brewers are hopeful their cleanup hitter is healthier now than he was when he came off the disabled list in May.
“That might have to wait (to be answered) in the next few days after I play a couple of games,” Ramirez said. “I feel pretty good in practice, but once you cross that line it’s different stuff. Once I play a few games I will have a better idea of where I’m at.”
Gindl, 24, is hitting .282 with one home run and six RBI in 32 games over two stints with the Brewers this season. He’s made 20 starts in left field and has seen the majority of playing time since Ryan Braun was suspended, but was the odd man out in Milwaukee’s crowded outfield.
In order to keep the platoon in order, the Brewers had to keep the right-handed hitting Khris Davis and send down one of the two left-handed hitting outfielders. Despite his struggles at the plate, Logan Schafer’s defense and ability to play center field gave him the edge to stay over Gindl.
Scooter’s big night: After his first home run Tuesday, Brewers rookie second baseman Scooter Gennett got the silent treatment in the dugout for over 20 seconds.
When he blasted his second home run of the night just two innings later, Gennett’s teammates made all 5-foot-9 of him jump pretty high for high fives.
After hitting just three home runs in 321 Triple-A at-bats this season, the 23-year-old now has four home runs in 67 at-bats with the Brewers.
“He’s got power,” Roenicke said. “He’s a good hitter. He has enough that when he squares it up he’s going to hit some homers. We just can’t get him thinking he’s a home run hitter.”
Gennett launched a solo home run into the upper deck at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington off Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando to put Milwaukee up 1-0 in the third inning. With Schafer aboard in the fifth inning, Gennett connected off Ogando again.
“It might be that I just woke up on the right side of the bed,” Gennett said. “I’m really not trying to do too much. I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”
Estrada impressive: Last time out, Marco Estrada was pitching well but needed to be pulled due to a strict pitch count. On Tuesday, the right-hander got worn down by the heat of Texas.
Nonetheless, Estrada allowed just a solo home run in six innings of work to pick up his first win since May 24.
“Really nice outing,” Roenicke said. “He comes out and commands the ball and keeps it down. Changeup was really good, threw some nice curveballs. He got into a little bit of trouble, but not that much. Then he ran out of gas, but he did a real nice job.”
Though he’s allowed just one run in 11 innings since coming off the disabled list, Estrada still doesn’t feel like he’s as sharp as he can be.
“There are still things I have to work on,” Estrada said. “It started off kind of slow then I got going a little bit after that. I missed a lot of off-speed pitches.
“Overall, I can’t complain about this. I kept the team in the game and they pulled it off.”
Estrada wasn’t on a pitch count like he was in his first start back, but he was done after just 76 pitches. An early evening storm dropped the temperature in Texas, but the heat still got to Estrada.
“Just warming up out there, I just started to get drenched,” Estrada said. “My jersey kept getting heavier and heavier. It was tough to keep the sweat off my hands, but you have to pitch in it.”
Rare feat: Brewers shortstop Jean Segura managed to turn a botched play into a bit of history Tuesday night.
Either due to a missed sign or just a missed bunt, Segura was caught off third base in the eighth inning thinking Bianchi was going to lay down a suicide squeeze.
The speedy Segura was able to get in and then slide around the tag attempt of catcher A.J. Pierzynski to score. He was credited with a steal of home, Milwaukee’s first since Bill Hall swiped home on May 2, 2007.