SAN FRANCISCO -- The National League hopes to tap the karma shared by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, who have been largely responsible for about half of the Giants' impressive victory total.
The pair of pitchers, along with catcher Buster Posey, their primary batterymate, will represent the Giants on the NL squad that will oppose the American League at next Tuesday's 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego's Petco Park (coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. PT).
Posey edged St. Louis' Yadier Molina in fan balloting to earn his fourth All-Star selection and his second start. Players elected Bumgarner to his fourth All-Star team and threw their support behind Cueto, who earned his second trip to the Midsummer Classic.
As leaders of the NL West with a 53-33 record, the Giants have been bolstered all season by their starting rotation, particularly Bumgarner and Cueto. San Francisco owns a 27-8 record in games they start.
This could result in extra recognition for the Giants, since Cueto's glittering credentials have helped him emerge as a candidate to start for the NL. Signed to a six-year, $130 million contract as a free agent last offseason, Cueto is 12-1 with a 2.57 ERA and three complete games, two of them shutouts. He currently maintains a nine-decision winning streak.
Cueto's final pre-All-Star-break appearance comes Wednesday against Colorado, giving him ample rest before he would confront the AL.
"I'd love it," Cueto said through an interpreter, Giants sports science specialist Geoff Head. "If I had the opportunity, I'd take it."
Should that happen, the NL would field its second all-Giants starting battery in five years. Matt Cain teamed with Posey at Kansas City in 2012.
"It'd be the best because he's my favorite catcher," said a beaming Cueto, who praised Posey for adapting to his "little tricks" on the mound.
Posey is batting .289 with 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and a team-high 48 runs scored. His combined offensive and defensive wins above replacement of 2.7 entering Tuesday matched the NL-high figure of Washington catcher Wilson Ramos, who was batting .340. Posey also won the fan vote in 2012, the year he captured the NL Most Valuable Player Award.
Posey called his All-Star recognition "a big honor, especially when you're selected by the fans. That makes it even more special."
Bumgarner displayed his All-Star skills Tuesday, surrendering four hits in six shutout innings before he left the game and Colorado surged past the Giants, 7-3. The left-hander is 9-4 with a 2.09 ERA and two complete games in 18 starts. He entered Tuesday ranked among the NL's best in ERA (second), strikeouts (fourth), innings (fourth) and opponents' batting average (eighth).
Bumgarner's unlikely to participate for the NL, since he's scheduled to pitch Sunday against Arizona in the last game before the All-Star break. He still took pride in being selected by his peers -- "It means a lot," he said -- and he cherished becoming an All-Star for the fourth consecutive year. Tim Lincecum (2008-11) was the last Giant accorded that distinction.
Said Bumgarner, "It's obviously special to get to do that, and then you get thrown in the same category as Timmy did. That means you're doing something pretty good because he was a pretty special player for a while."
Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 1 p.m. PT on Friday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will be announced during a Final Vote-themed telecast of "MLB Now" featuring commentary from political analyst Jeff Greenfield, live on MLB Network and MLB.com from 1-2 p.m. PT. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage across all of its studio programming during the Final Vote, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating the cities where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.
Baseball fans have cast nearly 600 million online votes for Final Vote candidates since the program's inception in 2002. In addition to MLB.com and the official club websites, fans can use their mobile devices to cast votes at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. 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 fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote will include social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 7 a.m.-1 p.m. PT on Friday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.
On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.