BOSTON -- Chris Sale already is a two-time All-Star, and that third All-Star selection is getting closer by the hour.
Actually, by the minute.
Sale maintained his lead in the American League Final Vote balloting per Thursday morning's release. He stayed ahead of Garrett Richards, Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber and Dallas Keuchel, in that order, with the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo leading Justin Morneau in the National League Final Vote.
And now the #TargetSale campaign can get an extra boost from social media.
Over the final six hours, tweets using the designated hashtag of any candidate will be counted as part of his final vote tally. With races this close, fan support on Twitter during these final hours of online balloting could play a key role in determining which players take those final two All-Star roster spots.
The White Sox held a number of watch and vote parties at Beggars Pizza and Hooters locations across Chicagoland on Wednesday evening as Sale started and received a tough-luck no-decision in the Red Sox's 5-4 walk-off victory, allowing one run over 7 2/3 innings while striking out six and not issuing a walk. Sale is trying to become the first White Sox pitcher to make three consecutive All-Star teams since Jack McDowell in 1991-93, after he emerged as the winning pitcher for the 2013 Midsummer Classic at Citi Field.
Teammates have frequently spoken out in support of Sale this week, and they continued to do so Thursday morning via Twitter. Even Ed Rendell, the former Governor of Pennsylvania and a White Sox fan, put up a "Chris Sale has awesome stuff #TargetSale" tweet from his account.
Sale admitted Wednesday after the team's setback that Thursday could be a little nerve-wracking waiting for the final notification.
"Yeah, I'm sure I'll get a little antsy," Sale said. "But just try to focus on baseball stuff for now."
Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters on Sunday, 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. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners are announced after the voting concludes today at 3 p.m. CT.
Fans can also cast votes on the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the Final Vote ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. For example: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. 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 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag 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.
The hashtags and text designations are as follows:
Dallas Keuchel: #VoteKeuchel (A1)
Corey Kluber: #VoteKluber (A2)
Rick Porcello: #PickRick (A3)
Garrett Richards: #VoteGRich (A4)
Chris Sale: #TargetSale (A5)
Casey McGehee: #VoteHitsMcGehee (N1)
Justin Morneau: #VoteMorneau (N2)
Anthony Rendon: #VoteRendon (N3)
Anthony Rizzo: #VoteRizzo (N4)
Justin Upton: #VoteJUp (N5)
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again allow fans to help choose 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 platforms that support MLB.TV, 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.