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First round All-Star vote leader will get $15,000 bonuses

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NEW YORK (AP) The most popular players in All-Star voting will be in the money – at least enough to cover part of the season’s clubhouse tips.

The highest vote-getter in both leagues in the first round of the new fan voting system will receive a $15,000 bonus, according to details obtained by The Associated Press. That payment will go to the leading vote-getter at catcher and each infield position plus the top three among outfielders.

For all positions other than the outfield, the second-place finishers will receive $5,000 apiece and the third-place finishers $2,500 each.

Major League Baseball announced the addition of prize money on March 14 but did not reveal the amounts. This year’s All-Star Game is July 9 in Cleveland.

Most of last year’s elected starters have huge salaries this year, including Philadelphia outfielder Bryce Harper ($10 million salary plus $20 million in signing bonus payments), Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout ($16 million salary this year plus a $20 million signing bonus payment) and Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado ($26 million).

Only two of last year’s elected starters earn below $1 million this season: New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge ($684,300) and Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras ($684,000).

Fan voting resumed in 1970 for All-Star starters other than pitchers, and the division into two phases this year marks the biggest change since. The new system was agreed to by Major League Baseball and the players’ association on March 8 along with on-field rule changes for this year and 2020,

A primary voting period will start in late May or early June and last three-to-four weeks. A fan able to cast up five on-line votes per day,

The top three players in each league at every position other than the outfield will advance along with nine outfielders. The top vote-getter in each league will be assured of an All-Star roster spot.

After a break of two-to-three days to allow promotional campaigns, a final vote will be conducted during a 24-to-48-hour period in late June or early July.

The bonus pool for the winning All-Star team has been increased from $640,000 to $800,000, which translates to a hike from $20,000 to $25,000 per player.

The Home Run Derby prize money has been increased from $750,000 previously specified for this year to $2.5 million, and the winner’s amount has risen from $150,000 to $1 million. The losing finalist gets $500,000 instead of $100,000, and the six other participants $150,000 each rather than $75,000. The player with the longest home run gets an extra $100,000, up from $25,000.

As part of the changes, the Derby sponsor may give input to Major League Baseball that management may consider in determining the list of players it wants to ask to participate.

Prize money, to be paid by MLB or a sponsor, is due by July 31.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.