Norfolk report: Ring selected as All-Star

Though the Norfolk Tides struggled into the break with a record 20 games below .500, left-handed reliever Royce Ring was selected to represent the team in the 19th annual Triple-A All-Star Game Wednesday at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio.

The 25-year-old Ring assumed the Tides' closing duties earlier this season when Heath Bell was promoted to New York, and has been spectacular late in Norfolk's games.

Ring was a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities for Norfolk, setting a new Tides club record by eclipsing Orber Moreno's mark of 24 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings set in 2003.

Ring's streak finally ended just as the Tides were preparing to enjoy their three-day All-Star break, as the southpaw was touched for a ninth-inning run in a 5-1 Tides loss on July 8. The string lasted 26 2/3 innings and 23 games, dating back to April 19.

Ring was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and was billed at the time as the Mets' closer of the future. He now projects more as a left-handed situational reliever, thanks in large part to a side-arm delivery incorporated this season at the advice of Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson.

Left-handed batters have hit just .116 (5-43) against Ring this season with 16 strikeouts, compared to .217 (13-60) for righties. All five of Ring's earned runs have scored with a right-handed batter at the plate.

For more on Ring, check out Inside Pitch contributor Rich Radford's column at the Virginian-Pilot.

First time, but not the Last(ings): Lastings Milledge has wasted little time stating his case to re-join the major league club.

Demoted to Triple-A when Cliff Floyd returned to the Mets for the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium last month, Milledge went stroked a three-run double in his first game back with Norfolk on July 2.

In Norfolk's last game of the first half, a 5-3 loss to the Ottawa Lynx at Harbor Park on Sunday, Milledge doubled twice and collected three RBI.

In 58 games with Norfolk this season, Milledge is batting .289 (61-211) with five home runs and 27 RBI. He hit .233 (20-86) with three home runs and 12 RBI in 24 games with the Mets, a first taste of the major leagues that lasted from May 30 until June 30.

Tough times: The Tides finished the first half 20 games under .500 at 35-55, their final blow coming in a 5-3 loss to Ottawa on Sunday that included a grand slam by Keith Reed.

Tides leaderboard, offense: Jeff Keppinger ranks fifth among Mets minor leaguers with a .300 (90-307) batting average … Milledge's .289 average ranks him eighth … Chris Basak's 13 stolen bases are fifth in the organization, six behind the Binghamton duo of Ambiorix Concepcion and Carlos Gomez, who each have 19.

Tides leaderboard, pitching: The nine victories by Norfolk lefty Evan MacLane tie him with Michael Devaney, lately of Binghamton and formerly of St. Lucie, for the most by a minor leaguer in the Mets' system … The audible duo of Bell and Ring are tied with eight saves, tying them for third in the system and trailing Carlos Muniz's 18 for St. Lucie and Henry Owens' 11 at Binghamton.

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