Baseball: Ohtani holds narrow lead in 2nd phase of All-Star ballot

Shohei Ohtani narrowly leads the voting to start the Major League Baseball All-Star Game as the designated hitter for the American League, according to preliminary results released Thursday by MLB.com.

The Los Angeles Angels two-way star received 51 percent of votes for the AL DH starting spot in a head-to-head ballot against Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, who tallied 49 percent.

The pair progressed to the second-phase runoff after receiving the most votes among AL DH candidates in the first phase of the ballot.

The top four outfielders and the top two in every other position went through to the final stage of voting for the July 19 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with first-phase votes not carried over. Voting closes on Saturday.

Ohtani was the starting pitcher and DH for the AL in last year's All-Star game at Denver's Coors field, becoming the first player to ever start on the mound, bat leadoff and earn the win in the same game in National League or AL history.

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