The winners of the Final Vote were announced Thursday as the the Reds’ Joey Votto and the Yankees’ Nick Swisher. Both have won fabulous all expenses-paid trips to beautiful Anaheim, California for a two-day All-Star extravaganza in which they’ll be able to mingle with elite superstars such as Albert Pujols (hold for applause), Alex Rodriguez (ooh, aah) and Omar “The Exterminator” Infante.
It will be the first All-Star appearances for both players. Votto, the current NL leader in OPS, won his vote easily, being singled out on approximately half of the ballots cast in the NL vote.
Swisher’s victory over Kevin Youkilis is being billed as the closest in the vote’s nine-year history. He ranks 12th in the AL in OPS, tied for 15th in homers and 23rd in RBI. That makes him a worthy, if borderline, AL All-Star. He just doesn’t compare to Youkilis, who is currently fourth in the league in OPS and was a far superior player each of the previous two years as well.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.
Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.
The Blue Jays completed a four-game series sweep against the Athletics on Thursday afternoon and won their second consecutive game in walk-off fashion. Last night, the Jays went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 2-0, but a two-run home run by Justin Smoak followed by a solo home run from Kendrys Morales led to a 3-2 walk-off victory.
Thursday’s game was already interesting enough as starter Marcus Stroman, catcher Russell Martin, and manager John Gibbons were all ejected by home plate umpire Will Little. Despite the adversity, the Jays battled the A’s, tying the game at four apiece when Morales blasted a solo home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the 10th inning, A’s reliever Liam Hendriks walked the bases loaded with two outs to bring up Steve Pearce. Pearce worked the count full before pulling a fastball down the left field line for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Jays an 8-4 victory to complete the sweep.
Before Pearce, the last Jays hitter to hit a walk-off grand slam was Gregg Zaun on September 6, 2008 against the Rays, per SportsNet Stats.