Bryce Harper has to be considered the favorite to win the NL Final Vote for the last spot on the All-Star team, but he said after Sunday’s game that, “I’d vote for Chipper.”
Harper and Chipper Jones are in the mix along with Michael Bourn, Aaron Hill and David Freese in the Final Vote, but really, it figures to be a two-man race. In typical buddy-cop-movie fashion, it’s the brash, young rookie versus the weary veteran a few months away from retirement.
Ideally, there’d be room for both, and if Matt Kemp is forced to skip the game with his hamstring injury, as seems likely, perhaps there will be. Harper, though, thinks Chipper should go to one last game at age 40. Jones has been to seven All-Star Games, including last year’s. At .292/.375/.455, he’s been plenty productive this year, though he’s played in just 44 games. Harper is hitting .274/.348/.471 in 57 games.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.