Results tagged ‘ Royce Ring ’

What home field advantage?

There goes the home-field advantage. That was the edge the Twins were supposed to have against the Yankees in the American League Division Series, but now it is essentially gone.

True, if this series goes the limit, Game 5 will be in Minneapolis, but for that to happen the Twins have to figure out a way to win at Yankee Stadium where they have lost 25 of the past 29 games they have played there in the regular season and are 2-4 in ALDS play.

In a best-of-5 series, the home field advantage is tilted more to Game 1 than a possible Game 5. The home team that loses the first game puts itself immediately in a defensive posture, which is what happened to the Twins Wednesday night when the Yankees came back from being down 3-0 and tied at 4.

What the Yankees did by winning, 6-4, is give themselves a chance to prevent a Game 5. Even if they should lose Game 2, they can still win the series without returning to Target Field. At this point, home field advantage is on the Yankees’ side.

There is also the matter of the Yankees’ dominance over the Twins in post-season play. The Twinkies could have made a big step toward exorcising those demons by maintaining the early lead, but now the doubts persist. To get this series back to the Target, they have to win one and maybe two games in the Bronx, a very tough order. Heck, just to get even in this series, they are counting Thursday night on Carl Pavano against Andy Pettitte. How confident would you be?

The bullpen came through big-time in Game 1 for the Yankees with three scoreless innings after the team broke the 4-all score on Mark Teixeira’s two-run home run in the seventh off a crush-me slider from Jesse Crain. Manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate to call on Mariano Rivera for a four-out save after the Twins got two runners on in the eighth off Kerry Wood on a walk and an infield single.

Almost as big a hit as Teixeira’s bomb was Curtis Granderson’s two-run triple in the four-run sixth off a tiring Francisco Liriano. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will get heat for not taking Liriano out, but I’m with Gardy on this one. He said Liriano is his ace and deserved a chance to get an out there. Granderson was 4-for-24 (.167) off Liriano before that at-bat. Criticizing Gardenhire there is a lousy second guess.

Yankees starter CC Sabathia did not have lights-out stuff but went into his I’ll-work-out-of-it mode and made it through six innings. A bases-loaded walk – the first of his career – allowed the Twins to tie the score in the sixth, but CC still had enough gas left to strike out J.J. Hardy and keep the Twins from regaining the lead there.

Boone Logan and David Robertson preceded Wood. Robertson got a huge strikeout of Jim Thome with two out and two on in the seventh. The Yankees considered putting Royce Ring on the post-season roster to have a second left-handed reliever to go with Logan without disabled Damaso Marte but decided against it. Ring was only so-so in his September audition. The Yankees’ faith in Robertson’s ability to get a big out against a left-handed slugger paid off.

Vazquez comes up small

If Javier Vazquez was pitching Wednesday night for a spot on the Yankees’ post-season roster – and he almost certainly was – it was not an ideal audition in Toronto. The Yankees showed they placed value on the game by starting an 80-percent A-list lineup on the night after clinching a playoff berth.

Manager Joe Girardi decided to hold Andy Pettitte back to Friday night at Boston and handed the ball to Vazquez, who began the season in the rotation but eventually pitched himself into the second tier of the bullpen because of too many outings that resembled this last start. The Blue Jays jumped on Vazquez for seven runs and 10 hits, including three home runs, in 4 2/3 innings. Javy walked two batters, threw a wild pitch and had no strikeouts, but at least he did not hit any batters as he did in his previous appearance Sunday night when he plunked three Red Sox in a row.

Girardi still has decisions to make about his post-season staff, but it would appear the locks are starters CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett and relievers David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera. Assuming that the Yankees will go with an 11-man staff, that would leave two openings with the candidates being Vazquez, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley, Ivan Nova and Royce Ring.

Perhaps I am making a big assumption about Burnett, who has been horrid in the second half, but the Yankees will need four starters. There has been some good talk about Nova, but he is a rookie with no post-season experience. As inconsistent as A.J. has been, his track record is superior to the others, including Vazquez, who did not advance his case in the 8-4 loss to the Blue Jays.

There is a good chance the Yankees will take several looks this week at Ring, who spent most of the year at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but has big-league experience and would give Girardi a second left-handed option out of the pen along with Logan, an option most managers would love. Ring retired the only batter he faced Wednesday night. The most impressive inning from an auditioning pitcher was by Mitre, who struck out the side in the eighth.

Vazquez needed to prove he can be an effective innings soaker but was little more than a punching bag and put the Yankees in a 7-0 hole in the fifth. Like many other games this September, the Yankees had to go uphill throughout the evening.

Toronto lefthander Brett Cecil shut them down for five innings before making the mistake of hitting Robinson Cano with a pitch after Alex Rodriguez had homered leading off the sixth. That’s 14 seasons of at least 30 homers and 100 RBI for A-Rod. The Yankees tagged Cecil for two more runs, but the rally died on a double play. The Jays hung on to improve Cecil’s record against the Yankees this year to 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA, which is Roy Halladay territory.

The loss ruined the Yankees’ opportunity to move ahead of the Rays in the American League East standings. Tampa Bay maintains a one-game edge in the loss column.

Rain leaves a Ring

As Yankees manager Joe Girardi continues to gauge how best to configure his pitching staff for post-season play, the assessment of A.J. Burnett was thwarted by a 2-hour, 11-minute rain delay Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Burnett had a nondescript three innings in which he allowed one run, two hits and two walks with two strikeouts in a 51-pitch outing. He gave up the run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria and actually had his ERA drop to 5.05.

If not for the rainstorm that featured quite a light show in the sky for a time, Yankees fans might not have known that Royce Ring was on the team. Once a promising reliever, Ring pitched in his first major-league game since 2008 when he was with the Braves.

The Yankees signed the lefthander as a free agent in January. Ring pitched for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he did not allow an earned run in 45 of his 52 relief appearances and held opposing hitters to a .222 average.

Ring was a former first-round draft pick of the White Sox, who traded him to the Mets in July 2003 in the Roberto Alomar deal. Ring was traded again in 2006 to the Padres and in 2007 to the Padres. He pitched in the Cardinals’ minor-league system in 2009. He took a major-league mark of 3-3 with a 4.93 ERA into his Yankees debut.

The hearties in the crowd who stayed through the delay gave Ring a nice round of applause when he departed after 1 2/3 hitless innings. He was stung for an earned run, however, as reliever Dustin Moseley came into the game and promptly gave up singles to Ben Zobrist and Carl Crawford, the second scoring John Jaso, whom Ring had walked. It isn’t often that a righthander relieves a lefthander with two left-handed hitters coming up, but lengthy rain delays can louse up a manager’s pitching plans.

Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis was denied shooting for a no-hitter by the rain. He retired the first seven Yankees batters in order before walking Francisco Cervelli in the third inning prior to the stoppage in play. Upon resumption, righthander Jeremy Hellickson took the mound for the Rays.