CLEVELAND -- Joaquin Benoit's job in the Tigers' bullpen is to protect leads. Get him an advantage, and he'll finish it out.
After the second balloting updates for the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote, Benoit was going to need some help from fans to earn the last spot on the American League roster.
And to get that extra help, the Tigers turned to, of all clubs, the team that beat them in the World Series.
AL CANDIDATES BY THE NUMBERS
The move appears to be giving Benoit some traction, as he moved up from fourth to third among the AL hopefuls when the latest balloting updates were announced Wednesday, with the lead maintained by Toronto's Steve Delabar.
On Monday the Tigers and Giants announced a Final Vote partnership, encouraging Detroit fans to vote for Benoit as well as San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence, and vice versa. The teams unveiled the #BackBenoit and #BackPence hashtags, the official tags to be used to vote for the pair during Thursday's social media voting period between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET, which also marks the final six hours of voting.
Benoit has faced Pence five times, including twice in the Fall Classic, but he doesn't know him personally.
"It's a great way to start a friendship, I guess," Benoit said. "We'll vote for each other."
Now in its 12th year, the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Saturday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and will end on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
The Tigers have had success building up players for the Final Vote before, getting Brandon Inge into the 2009 All-Star Game. They've also had success getting relievers recognized for stellar seasons with All-Star selections, such as Jose Valverde two years ago.
They're hoping to do the same with Benoit, whose six saves in six opportunities and nine holds have continued his track record of quiet production and late-inning lockdown performances. No other reliever in the Final Vote brings the combination of saves and holds as Benoit, who earned his well-deserved chance to take over Detroit's closer role last month.
Statistically, Benoit is enjoying his best year since his 2010 breakout season with Tampa Bay made him one of the game's best setup men. With 46 strikeouts and just 28 hits over 36 1/3 innings, he has a level of stinginess not seen from a Tigers closer in a long time. Moreover, he has allowed just two home runs all year, a vast improvement from the 14 he gave up last year.
Along with left-hander Drew Smyly, Benoit has been the glue holding together Detroit's bullpen through its struggles. Now is the opportunity for fans to return the favor.
The normally quiet Benoit isn't going to campaign for himself.
"I want to let the people decide," he said. "Obviously, I want to go. It would a great experience."
His teammates, however, are picking up the campaign for him.
"Thanks to all the fans who vote for our boys," catcher Brayan Pena tweeted Sunday night. "You guys are the best. Please let's get Benoit in!!"
Thanks to all the fans who vote for our boys , you guys are the best , please lets get Benoit in !! GOD BLESS U AMERICA GOOD NIGHT !!- Brayan Pena (@cuban2727) July 7, 2013
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote online. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 14-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 12-26. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15 percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on Friday to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.
Mobile voting in the U.S. and Canada is open to everyone. In the U.S., to receive the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for Benoit, simply text message A1 to 89269. In Canada, fans should text A1 to 101010. Standard message and data rates may apply. To vote for another player via text message, use the codes below.
A1 - Joaquin Benoit, Detroit
A2 - Steve Delabar, Toronto
A3 - David Robertson, New York Yankees
A4 - Tanner Scheppers, Texas
A5 - Koji Uehara, Boston
N1 - Ian Desmond, Washington
N2 - Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
N3 - Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles
N4 - Hunter Pence, San Francisco
N5 - Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles
For the second consecutive year, the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com (#FinalVote), will include a social balloting element as Twitter support from the candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the overall vote total used to determine the American League and National League winners. Fans may follow @MLB on the popular social networking service for the latest standings updates in advance of the 4 p.m. balloting deadline.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and soon the final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2013 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com during the All-Star Game. The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, visit allstargame.com.