Bryce Harper and Chipper Jones are pitted against each other in the “Final Vote” contest for an All-Star spot, with most people assuming that the Nationals phenom will win.
Harper said Sunday that he’d vote for Jones because “I think a Hall of Famer should be able to go to the All-Star game his last year.”
Once word of that got back to Jones he texted Harper to say thanks and then had plenty of praise for the 19-year-old rookie, telling Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
That’s a very classy thing for a 19-year-old kid to say. I think he’s going to be in his fair share of All-Star games throughout the years. He’s an unbelievable talent and I just let him know that I appreciated what he said. It was classy.
Players inevitably dropping out due to injuries could mean that there’s room on the NL team for both Harper and Jones, but the other “Final Vote” candidates (Michael Bourn, David Freese, Aaron Hill) seemingly have zero chance to finish higher than third in the balloting.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.