DETROIT -- Rick Porcello has never faced Anthony Rizzo. They were both selected in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, but they were drafted five rounds apart -- Porcello a first-round pick who ranked among the top high school pitchers in the Draft, Rizzo a sixth-rounder by the Red Sox.
Both, however, are trying to get into the All-Star Game for the first time in their career through the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. And for the next few days, their All-Star fates are tied to one other, billed as an American League-National League ticket for fans of both clubs.
It's not a new idea. The Tigers had success with the same strategy five years ago, when AL Final Vote candidate Brandon Inge and NL Final Vote candidate Shane Victorino both ended up winning when the Tigers and Phillies packaged them together.
Detroit has struggled to find another successful tandem in the years since then. With Porcello and Rizzo, the combination of two up-and-coming young players who have strong Midwestern fan bases that stretch beyond their hometowns is a draw that could be mutually beneficial.
By branching into the Cubs' fan base, too, Porcello could benefit from the anti-White Sox part of the Chicago fan base. A vote for Porcello effectively becomes a vote against Sox ace Chris Sale, who has a very strong case of his own for the AL Final Vote nod.
The Tigers did their part for the tandem with an immediate marketing campaign Sunday night during the ESPN broadcast, featuring a "Vote Porcello" message on the scoreboard and signs amidst the crowd of 31,917 at Comerica Park. They're offering any fan who votes for Porcello a chance to get $10 off an upper-box ticket for select home games over the remaining schedule.
In addition, fans who tweet the #PickRick hashtag and follow the Tigers on Twitter and Instagram -- both @tigers -- will have the chance to win prizes, including game tickets, autographed items and in-game experiences.
Porcello's performance in Sunday's game did not help his case, as he allowed seven runs on 11 hits over 5 2/3 innings to raise his ERA from 3.12 to 3.53. His shutout streak ended at 25 innings, the second-longest by an AL pitcher this season.
Although Porcello's recent momentum was halted, he has three days to convince fans based on his contributions this season. His 11 wins trail only Yankees rookie sensation and Major League leader Masahiro Tanaka, and include a shutout of the AL-best Oakland A's. Porcello is one of just two AL pitchers with a pair of shutouts this season.
Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters on Sunday, fans began voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners are announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
In addition to voting online at MLB.com, or at tigers.com/vote, fans can text their votes to 89269, texting "A3" to vote Porcello and "N4" to vote for Rizzo.
Fellow Tigers starter Max Scherzer sounded an optimistic tone on Sunday night.
"Hopefully our fans show up," he said. "We need our fans really to show up and vote Rick into the All-Star Game."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans help choose the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, 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 will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.