Final Vote: Marte drops to 2nd; vote or tweet until 4 ET

Fans still have time to send Bucs outfielder to Midsummer Classic

Final Vote: Marte drops to 2nd; vote or tweet until 4 ET

After storming ahead in the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote balloting on Thursday afternoon, Starling Marte will need a late boost in the polling to earn his first trip to the Midsummer Classic.

As of the final balloting update Friday morning, Marte had been overtaken by the Giants' Brandon Belt for the top spot in the National League. Marte was follwed in the voting by the Rockies' Trevor Story, the D-backs' Jake Lamb and the Brewers' Ryan Braun.

Fans still have time to help Marte (#VoteMarte) pull out a comeback win. For the fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote includes social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. Until 4 p.m. ET today, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

If Marte does punch his ticket to San Diego, he might have Clint Hurdle -- both the Pirates manager and the skipper's father, who goes by the same name -- to thank for it.

What does this have to do with the Clint Hurdles?

Cast your Esurance Final Vote for Marte

"I've voted more than my fair share, more than I've ever voted before," Hurdle said before Thursday's 5-1 Pirates loss to the Cardinals, which Marte sat out. "Starling's kids are going to vote for him. My kids are going to vote for him. Starling's going to vote for Starling. My dad voted so many times his hand locked up on him."

Marte encouraged fans to keep voting after Thursday's game at Busch Stadium, sending a tweet from his @Starlingmart Twitter account.

Marte rested on Thursday because of the matchup with St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, the younger Hurdle said, but maybe there was another factor at play.

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"Can you vote for yourself? That's probably admissible, right?" Hurdle said, smiling. "I would like to see him in the dugout, watching the game."

Indeed, Marte was in the Pirates' dugout for Wainwright's first pitch, not supporting his own candidacy. Plenty of other people are working on that for him.

Marte briefly took the lead in the National League voting several times on Wednesday night but remained in second place behind Belt entering Thursday, the second full day of balloting. By Thursday afternoon, Marte was back on top.

Marte is 6-for-36 with eight strikeouts in his career against Wainwright, so Hurdle gave the left fielder the day off. Matt Joyce started in his place and ripped a leadoff double to center field in the second inning. Marte will be back in the lineup this weekend against the Cubs at PNC Park, by which point he will know whether he's bound for San Diego for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic.

There's no doubting Marte's All-Star credentials, particularly from those who watch him play every day. His teammates continued his campaign in person -- there was a "VOTE MARTE" sign hanging in the bullpen on Wednesday night -- and via social media.

Closer Mark Melancon, who's already earned an All-Star Game nod, has called Marte the most athletic player with whom he's shared a clubhouse. But for fans who are unfamiliar, Hurdle provided a brief scouting report -- and another endorsement.

"He's in a batting race," Hurdle said. "He's at the top of the [leaderboard for] outfield assists. He's a Gold Glove outfielder. The WAR number [3.0] is real, probably the highest number of the five guys in play. It's legit. He's legit. He's a five-tool player that plays the game and gets a little bit better every year. Then the challenge comes down that you've got five guys out there that are all good players.

"I'm going to vote for him. That's all I can do. I hope everybody votes for him. I hope the people in Pittsburgh go crazy, because this is the one opportunity where they can go crazy and make a significant difference and hopefully get one of their guys to the All-Star Game."

Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 4 p.m. ET today. 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 4-5 p.m. ET. 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.

On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, 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.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.