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Ichiro, Lee give Mariners potent ASG duo

Ichiro, Lee give Mariners potent ASG duo

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DETROIT -- Ichiro Suzuki extended another one of his streaks on Sunday and left-hander Cliff Lee was rewarded for his impeccable control and finish-what-you-start mentality.

But lack of run support from one of the least-productive offenses in the Major Leagues prevented right-hander Felix Hernandez from a second consecutive All-Star invitation.

That was the result of the month-long process of selecting the American League All-Star team, which was announced Sunday.

"Anytime you are even mentioned as potentially making an All-Star team it's an honor," said Lee after pitching the Mariners to an 8-1 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park. "But to make it, especially to be voted in by the players, it's an honor. When fellow teammates and the opposition vote you in, it's a good feeling -- something I will cherish the rest of my life."

Ichiro, the Mariners' hit-happy right fielder, was selected to his 10th All-Star team -- the ninth time as a starter -- and Lee was among the 13 pitchers named to manager Joe Girardi's staff for the Midsummer Classic on July 13 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

"It never gets old, of course not," Ichiro said through his interpreter.

Asked what he enjoys the most at the Midsummer Classic, he said, "It's the stage where all the All-Stars come together, and that's something special, because only the guys that go there get to see and feel that.

"When you go there, you have a special atmosphere you enjoy and that's what you look forward to. That moment is something I look forward to because it's very precious and it stays in your heart while you play this game."

In his previous nine All-Star Games, Ichiro is a .333 hitter (8-for-24) with three runs scored, a double, a home run and four RBIs. He was MVP of the 2007 All-Star Game, when he went 3-for-3 with the only inside-the-park home run in the Midsummer Classic's history.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu broke the news to the All-Stars prior to Sunday's game.

"I'm very proud of both Cliff and Ichiro," he said. "I think both are well-deserving and will do a tremendous job representing the Mariners and the American League.

"Both guys work very hard, every day, on preparing to be successful. It is great to see that recognized from the fans and their peers.

"At the same time, I'm disappointed for Felix. I think he's pitched great, and if we'd given him a little better run support it might have been a different story. I know there are lots of deserving players, but I had hoped he would make it with Cliff and Ichi."

Ichiro finished second to Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton and ahead of Carl Crawford of the Rays in the fan-balloting portion of the selection process.

Hamilton's torrid play in June launched him to the top spot among outfielders with 2,840,816 votes. Ichiro was second with 2,544,564 votes, while Crawford, last year's Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet, held on to earn his first start in the Midsummer Classic, his fourth All-Star appearance overall.

The 81st Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

The All-Star teams were announced on Sunday, but each team still has one opening.

Now in its ninth year, the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by Sprint gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 8. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. Example: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may aply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and 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 Chevy via the 2010 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.

Meanwhile, Ichiro joins Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players in franchise history to represent the Mariners in the Midsummer Classic at least 10 times. Griffey, who retired last month, was selected to 13 All-Star Games overall during his Hall of Fame career.

The only player in MLB history to have nine consecutive 200-hit seasons, Ichiro is on pace this season to join Pete Rose as the only players to have 10 of them -- and Rose needed 17 years to set the record.

Ichiro, who receives a $50,000 bonus for being selected, also has the longest ongoing streak of All-Star Game selections.

Lee, who receives a $100,000 bonus, was selected for the second time in his career. He started the Midsummer Classic two years ago at Yankee Stadium and pitched two scoreless innings. The lefty went on to capture the AL Cy Young Award.

Lee has pitched the same way for the Mariners.

"I feel like since I have been here, I have done my job effectively and given my team a chance to win, and that is all I am trying to do," he said. "I am pretty pleased with the way things have gone in the first half. I have one more start, and then [it's on[ to Anaheim and have some fun at the All-Star Game."

The popularity of Griffey remained strong this season, although he retired on June 2 after batting .184 with no home runs and seven RBIs.

In his final year on the ballot, Griffey, MLB's all-time leader in All-Star balloting, earned 1,070,862 votes. Junior, who retired from baseball June 2, entered the season with 48,973,314 votes, giving him a total of 50,044,176 in his 22-year Major League career. Griffey also holds the single-season record (6,079,688 votes in 1994).

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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