Yanks keep winning except on All-Star ballot

Yankees fans need to hit the ballot box on a regular basis if they want the team to have a heavy representation in the All-Star Game July 16 at Citi Field. One of the drawbacks of the current, 10-game trip to the West Coast is that voting at Yankee Stadium is suspended for another week. Fans need to make their choices on Yankees.com or MLB.com while the team is away.

In the latest tally of votes, only one Yankees player is leading at his position, Robinson Cano at second base, and only one other, disabled shortstop Derek Jeter, is in the top five at his position. The injuries to first baseman Mark Teixeira, third baseman Kevin Youkilis and outfielder Curtis Granderson has hurt their chances to garner support.

A testament to Jeter’s popularity is that even though he has yet to play a game as he recovers from off-season left ankle surgery the Captain has received the fifth highest vote total among shortstops with 529,234 as of Saturday’s announced count. The current leader at the position is the Orioles’ J.J. Hardy with 1,231,843 that gives him a 185,958-vote lead over runner-up Elvis Andrus of the Rangers.

Since it was known at the start of the season that Alex Rodriguez would be out until after the All-Star break while recovering from left hip surgery he was not placed on the ballot at third base. Jeter had been expected back earlier in the season but sustained a crack in another area of the ankle that has extended his recovery period.

At second base, with 1,851,371 votes Cano has a lead of 744,422 over the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia. The other position leaders at this point are the Twins’ Joe Mauer at catcher; the Orioles’ Chris Davis at first base; the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera at third base; the Red Sox’ David Ortiz at designated hitter and the Angels’ Mike Trout, the Orioles’ Adam Jones and the Tigers’ Torii Hunter in the outfield. Among the outfielders, the best the Yankees are doing so far is Ichiro Suzuki in 15th place with 477,870 votes.

Brett Gardner should have raised some attention with voters with his four-hit game Sunday in the Yankees’ 2-1 victory over the Mariners, always a plus in a game started by Felix Hernandez. The 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner was not the losing pitcher. He left after seven innings with the score 1-1 as David Phelps, who went six innings for the Yankees, dueled him to a draw.

The finale of the four-game set in which the Yanks won three times ended up in the bullpen with the Bombers’ relief corps being superior, which is often the case. Boone Logan pitched a perfect, two-strikeout seventh. David Robertson (4-1) withstood a leadoff double and a sacrifice to post two straight strikeouts and strand the potential go-ahead run at third base in the eighth. After the Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, Mariano Rivera handled the bottom half for his 23rd save of the season and career No. 631.

With the muscle part of their order coming up small, the Yankees got major contributions from top and bottom. Cano, Teixeira, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells, the 2-through-5 hitters, combined to go 0-for-14. Tex wore the golden sombrero (four strikeouts) but made an excellent defensive play in the ninth to get a key double play for Mo.

Suzuki, who was also hitless, walked to start the winning rally off Yoervis Medina. A textbook sacrifice bunt by Jayson Nix got Ichiro to second base from where he scored on a two-out single to left by Chris Stewart.

The Yankees’ run off Hernandez in the second inning was driven in by one of Gardner’s four hits. His quartet of knocks followed a three-hit effort Saturday night and topped off a big series for the center fielder. He had 9-for-17 (.529) with four doubles to raise his season batting average to .284, which leads the team. Gardner drove in one run and scored three. He has hit safely in 15 of his past 17 games, a stretch during which he has batted .365 in 63 at-bats.

Gardner’s hit scored Nix, who had a leadoff single and stole second base. Nix is also on a strong run. He has hit safely in 12 of his past 13 games that he has had an at-bat and is hitting .340 in 47 at-bats over that stretch. Nix, who is 8-for-8 in stolen bases, is batting a team-high .310 on the road with 12 runs and eight RBI in 26 games and 84 at-bats.

Andy Pettitte became the 45th pitcher in major-league history to get to 250 career victories (and the 24th in 70 seasons dating to 1944) with Saturday’s winning decision. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only six of that latter group of the most recent pitchers to enter the 250-victory circle did so with fewer losses than Pettitte, whose record is 250-145: Randy Johnson (250-130), Roger Clemens (250-136), Greg Maddux (250-140), Jim Palmer (250-142), Tom Seaver (250-142) and Mike Mussina (250-144).

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