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Pitchers Darvish, Iwakuma selected for All-Star Game

Kyodo, AP

Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and fellow right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners were both named to the American League All-Star team on Saturday.

Darvish, 26, was selected for the second year in a row, while the 32-year-old Iwakuma earned a spot for the first time.

The Midsummer Classic will be played on July 16 at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

Boston Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, 38, is on the ballot for the Internet vote to select each league’s final All-Star.

Darvish is 8-4 with a 3.02 ERA this season. He leads the majors with 157 strikeouts.

The former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters ace was named to the 34th and last spot on the All-Star team after he won the final fan vote last year but did not get any time on the mound.

“It’s unbelievable that I was selected,” Darvish said. “It’s an honorable thing. I’m really grateful.”

Iwakuma, who owns an AL-best 2.60 ERA, was a three-time All-Star in Japan, but this is his first major league selection after signing with Seattle last season.

“It’s a real honor to be selected,” said Iwakuma. “(The All-Star Game) is packed with superstars, so I want to enjoy myself.”

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who has the cool nickname “Crush,” slugged his way past the Detroit Tigers’ Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the final week to claim the most fan votes. Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper used a final push to win a spot in the National League’s starting lineup.

Right-hander Max Scherzer was one of a major league-best six Tigers chosen. Detroit’s Jim Leyland is the AL manager. St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina led the NL fan vote announced Saturday night. He is one of the Cardinals’ five All-Stars, tops in the NL.

“I think any time you are getting that recognition, not only from your fan base but from everybody across the nation, I think it feels good to know that people are watching,” said Davis, one of 30 first-time All-Stars.

Mets young ace Matt Harvey and third baseman David Wright will represent the host team. Harvey, a first timer, received the most votes among NL pitchers in the player balloting, outpacing the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

Baseball’s latest phenom, Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, didn’t make the NL team — at least not yet. The Dodgers outfielder with just one breathless month in the big leagues is among five candidates for the final NL spot, with fans able to vote online through Thursday.

The league that wins the All-Star Game gains home-field advantage in the World Series. The NL won the last three contests and World Series titles. Manager Bruce Bochy of the defending champion Giants will lead the NL squad.

Davis finished with 8,272,243 fan votes to edge Cabrera, who had 8,013,874. Davis has 85 RBIs, matching his career high and only three fewer than Cabrera. But he has hit 33 homers, seventh best before the break in big league history — he has a week to catch Barry Bond’s 39.

Davis is the second first-time All-Star to lead the voting, joining former Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (2001).

In the only close race for a starting role, the 20-year-old Harper trailed Justin Upton by several thousand votes, but he homered in his return from the disabled list this week and moved into the lead. Now Harper will become the youngest NL starter and fourth youngest overall to start in the game, according to the Nationals. Jerry Walker of the 1959 Orioles was several months younger.

“I’m really looking forward to it and being around the top guys in baseball,” Harper said.

Fellow rookie of the year Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels was voted to his first All-Star start, too.

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was one of the 68 players selected chosen by fans, managers and big leaguers. The 43-year-old career saves leader will hop across town as part of his retirement tour for a 13th All-Star appearance, second most by a pitcher behind Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, who made 17 teams.

“The fact that I went through all the adversity and I’m standing here talking about the All-Star Game . . . it’s a privilege,” said Rivera, who has 29 saves this year after missing nearly all of last season with a torn knee ligament.