With his lineup already hitting at a blistering pace, despite Tuesday's 6-4 loss, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is about to get another offensive weapon.
After three weeks on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez is slated to rejoin the Milwaukee lineup for Wednesday night's game against Minnesota.
Ramirez returns after a two-game rehab stint at Class A Wisconsin, where he went 2-for-6 and played four innings at third base. Ramirez said that everything felt good and that he would ease back in by playing designated hitter on Wednesday.
Last year, Ramirez missed two months with injuries, and the team struggled without him and Ryan Braun in the lineup. This time around, with Braun and Ramirez making consecutive trips to the DL, the team has stayed afloat and currently sits five games ahead of St. Louis for the lead in the National League Central.
"That says a lot, because we have a good team," Ramirez said. "'Brauny' went to the DL, we kept winning. I went out, we kept winning. And that says a lot. You're losing your three and four guys in the lineup. We kept winning, and that's good."
To Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, Ramirez is another good hitter to counter in a lineup full of them.
"They're fixing to get Ramirez back, who's a pretty good player, too, who can drive the baseball," Gardenhire said. "We know these guys, we know they're pretty good, we know they can swing it."
The Brewers showed as much in the series opener on Monday, when home runs by Mark Reynolds and Jonathan Lucroy led to a 6-2 Milwaukee win. But Minnesota turned the tables on Tuesday and hope to continue the trend as the four-game home-and-away series shifts to Minnesota.
On Wednesday, the Brewers will send Marco Estrada (5-2, 4.03) to the mound to try to take advantage of the struggling Twins, who have lost eight of their past 12. Estrada had his seventh quality start of the season on Friday against the Cubs, giving up three runs over six innings.
The Twins will look to win their second straight behind right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who will make his ninth career start against the Brewers. Nolasco is 2-3 against the Brewers lifetime and gave up four runs over 5 1/3 innings in his most recent start against them, on June 10, 2013.
Twins: Gardenhire has fond memories of Gomez
Though Carlos Gomez has been in Milwaukee since 2010, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says he has positive memories of the outfielder's two seasons in Minnesota. He shared one particularly funny tidbit prior to Tuesday night's game.
"Ask him about a few of our hotels on the road," Gardenhire said, laughing. "Ask him about the one in Tampa; that's when he was at his best. His eyes were this big, he couldn't sleep at night and actually was rooming with a player. They had conjoining rooms and both ended up staying in the same room. So he's a chicken.
"But as they know here, he's a pleasure. He's full of life every day, happy to be on the baseball field and really has gotten a lot out of a lot of ability. He's really made himself a pretty good player. He's had fun no matter where he's at."
Brewers: Roenicke hopes Smith is in All-Star contention
Milwaukee reliever Will Smith, acquired from Kansas City in an offseason trade, has helped anchor the Brewers' bullpen. Smith has a 0.35 ERA in 29 appearances this year and has not allowed an earned run over his past 14 appearances.
Before Tuesday night's game against Minnesota, Roenicke was asked if Smith's numbers might merit some All-Star consideration:
"I would think so," Roenicke said. "With how we're playing and what he's doing in that bullpen, I would think they would take notice of it. You look at the numbers, they're pretty sick numbers. Hopefully he'll be talked about and he continues this well through the break."
Last season, four non-closer relievers were chosen for the All-Star Game: Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays; Jesse Crain of the White Sox; and Mark Melancon of the Pirates. The decision on Smith will be left to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who will manage the National League squad this year.
• Estrada has struggled against the Twins, with an 0-2 record and 6.11 ERA in five career games against Minnesota, including three starts.
• On Monday night, Joe Mauer passed Justin Morneau for fifth place on the Twins' all-time doubles list. He now has 290.
• The Huntsville Stars, the Double-A affiliate of the Brewers, clinched the first half title of the Southern League North Division on Sunday, guaranteeing a postseason berth.
Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.