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Richards earns spot as All-Star Final Vote candidate

Angels starter one of five AL players on ballot; voting concludes Thursday, 1 p.m. PT

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Richards earns spot as All-Star Final Vote candidate play video for Richards earns spot as All-Star Final Vote candidate

ANAHEIM -- Garrett Richards beat the Astros on Sunday, and he'll look to come up with another big win to earn a spot on the American League All-Star team.

Richards will be part of the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian to determine the final spot on the AL roster. He is up against Houston's Dallas Keuchel, Cleveland's Corey Kluber, Detroit's Rick Porcello and Chicago's Chris Sale.

"It's a little disappointing [that I didn't make the AL team], but there's still a chance," Richards said. "I'm more concerned with the second half of baseball, to be honest with you. If it happens, it happens. It's an honor to be considered."

Despite having the second-best record in the AL, the Angels have just one All-Star on the AL team after Mike Trout was elected to start in the outfield.

"I thought Garrett was going to make it for sure," Trout said.

In his first full season as a starter, Richards is 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA and 119 strikeouts.

"There's no doubt Garrett has displayed the type of season that will put you on an All-Star team," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Sometimes, guys aren't rewarded with that honor. I think that, hopefully, he'll get an opportunity with the fan vote to get in there."

Richards picked up his 10th win of the season on Sunday against Houston, striking out a career-high 11 batters.

"As far as pure stuff and as far as being able to throw the ball with velocity, with movement and spin the ball, there's no doubt he is in the top four or five in our league," Scioscia said.

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 immediately following the announcement of the All-Star rosters on Sunday night. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT.

Here are five reasons why Richards should win the AL Final Vote and a spot on the AL All-Star Game roster:

1. He is on a roll. Richards found his stride in the past month, going 6-0 with a 1.45 ERA since the start of June. He has set new career highs for strikeouts twice in his past seven starts, most recently with an 11-strikeout performance against the Astros on Sunday. With Richards getting hot right before the break, he could be a valuable piece for the AL.

2. Opponents can't hit him. Richards leads the AL in opponents' batting average, allowing hitters a .196 average against him. During his recent hot streak, that figure has dipped to .158, and he has not allowed more than six hits in an outing since May 19.

3. He wins games. What more do you want with home-field advantage in the World Series on the line? Richards picked up his 10th victory of the season on Sunday, which is tied for third most in the AL. Only one other AL pitcher (Porcello) with double-digit wins was left off the team. He has not lost since May 30, and the Angels have the best record among teams with a Final Vote candidate.

4. He strikes guys out. With 11 strikeouts on Sunday, Richards now has 119 on the season, good for eighth in the AL. Only Kluber has more strikeouts and is not on the team. He even became the first Angel to throw an immaculate inning (three strikeouts on nine pitches) since Nolan Ryan. In a close game late, the AL may need a pitcher to get out of a jam, and Richards' strikeout ability could bail the team out.

5. He blows it past you. With Richards, nothing jumps out at you more than his electrifying fastball. His fastball velocity averages 96.1 mph, second in the Majors. Even late in games, when he's nearing 100 pitches, Richards still pumps in his fastball at 97 mph. With the game's best hitters in the opposing dugout, the AL may need some heat.

In addition to the web, fans can use their mobile phones to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text the choice to 89269. Example: Text "A4" to vote for Richards. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

For the third consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include social balloting participation, as Twitter support from the 10 candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (#VoteGRich) will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire four-day voting period.

And the voting doesn't end with the Final Vote. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for 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 support MLB.TV platforms, 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.

Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MDeFranks. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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