published Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Davis tops All-Star voting; Kimbrel only Brave

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel walks off the mound after pitching the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in this July 4, 2013 file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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    Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis follows through on a two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees on Saturday, July 6, 2013, in New York.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NEW YORK — Chris Davis' first-half power surge made him one popular All-Star.

Baltimore's first baseman with the cool nickname "Crush" slugged his way past Detroit's Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the final week to claim the most fan votes in All-Star game balloting. Washington outfielder Bryce Harper used a final push to win a spot in the National League's starting lineup.

Right-hander Max Scherzer was one of a major league-best six Tigers chosen for the All-Star game July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina led the NL fan vote announced Saturday night. He is one of the Cardinals' five All-Stars, tops in the NL.

"I think any time you are getting that recognition, not only from your fan base but from everybody across the nation, I think it feels good to know that people are watching," said Davis, one of 30 first-time All-Stars.

Mets young ace Matt Harvey and third baseman David Wright will represent the host team in the 84th All-Star game. Harvey, a first timer, received the most votes among NL pitchers in the player balloting, outpacing the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.

Baseball's latest phenom, Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, didn't make the NL team -- at least not yet. The Dodgers outfielder with just one breathless month in the big leagues is among five candidates for the final NL spot, with fans able to vote online through Thursday. One of the other candidates is Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, who would double the Braves' representation: Only closer Craig Kimbrel was named to the NL stars squad Saturday night.

The league that wins the All-Star game gains home-field advantage in the World Series. The NL won the last three Midsummer Classics and World Series titles. Manager Bruce Bochy of the defending champion Giants will lead the NL squad for the second time in three years.

"You actually enjoy the process," Bochy said. "It does force you to learn even more about players throughout the league, exactly where they are with the numbers."

Davis finished with 8,272,243 fan votes to edge Cabrera, who had 8,013,874. Davis has 85 RBIs, matching his career high and only three fewer than Cabrera. But he has hit 33 homers, seventh best before the break in big-league history -- he has a week to catch Barry Bond's 39.

Davis is the second first-time All-Star to lead the voting, joining Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (2001).

The 27-year-old Davis is one of three Orioles to be selected by fans, the first time that has happened since Cal Ripken Jr. was one of the picks in 1997.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy and center fielder Adam Jones will take the field with Davis. Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado was selected as a reserve.

In the only close race for a starting role, the 20-year-old Harper trailed Atlanta's Justin Upton by several thousand votes, but he homered in his return from the disabled list this week and moved into the lead. Now Harper will become the youngest NL starter and fourth youngest overall to start in the game, according to the Nationals. Jerry Walker of the 1959 Orioles was several months younger.

"I'm really looking forward to it and being around the top guys in baseball," Harper said.

Fellow rookie of the year Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels was voted to his first All-Star start, too.

Puig and Freeman are joined in the final NL five by shortstop Ian Desmond of Washington, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers and outfielder Hunter Pence of San Francisco.

The American League's five are all relief pitchers: Detroit's Joaquin Benoit, Toronto's Steve Delabar, the Yankees' David Robertson, Texas' Tanner Scheppers and Boston's Koji Uehara.

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was one of the 68 players chosen by fans, managers and big-leaguers. The 43-year-old career saves leader will hop across town as part of his retirement tour for a 13th All-Star appearance, second most by a pitcher behind Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, who made 17 teams.

"The fact that I went through all the adversity and I'm standing here talking about the All-Star game ... it's a privilege," said Rivera, who has 29 saves this year after missing nearly all of last season with a torn knee ligament.

While Yankees stars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are working their way back from injuries and will be absent in Queens, Robinson Cano was selected to his fourth straight start at second base.

Scherzer is the first pitcher to start a season 13-0 since Roger Clemens in 1986.

"If they give me the ball [to start], that would be pretty special to me," Scherzer said. "You look at how many other great pitchers who are in the game right now who are worthy of starting. If I'm selected, that would mean so much."

Scherzer was joined from Detroit by first baseman Prince Fielder, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and outfielder Torii Hunter. Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who will run the AL squad after leading Detroit to the World Series, picked his ace Justin Verlander for the team.

"This is not a simple thing, but I'm proud of it," Leyland said. "We worked hard on it. We're not going to be perfect. I put a lot of time and thought into it. I had a lot of help. It's still not going to make everybody happy. There's going to be guys who should be All-Stars who are left off. That happens every year."

Third base was a talent-laden position, and one player to be left off the AL roster was Oakland's Josh Donaldson. The Athletics' only selection was 40-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Colon is an All-Star for the first time since 2005, when he won the AL Cy Young Award with the Angels. At 11-3 with a 2.73 ERA, Colon is making his third All-Star team. This one comes, though, after he began the season finishing a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria and Texas' Adrian Beltre also were not chosen in the AL's crowded third base field.

In the NL, where the preseason favorites are trailing their divisions, no players from the three first-place teams were selected by fans as starters. But the Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates, with baseball's best record at 53-32, landed four players on the squad for the first time since 1981: closer Jason Grilli, starting pitcher Jeff Locke, third baseman Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

"There are so many guys in this room who are so deserving," Grilli said. "To have as many as guys represented, there could be a lot more. That's the way it goes. It doesn't always happen the way you want it to."

The AL starters: Davis, Cano, Hardy, Cabrera, Jones, Trout, Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Twins catcher Joe and Red Sox DH David Ortiz.

The NL starters: Molina, Wright, Harper, Reds first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillps, Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

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