The Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw has already established as one of the best pitchers in the game. Cincinnati has the added incentive of being the host city to bring support for Johnny Cueto. Both threw complete game shutouts in their last outing. But in his final start before the break, Carlos Martinez put his best foot forward to argue his case for election in MLB’s #FinalVote contest for the All-Star Game.

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The  right-hander delivered 7.1 innings of shutout baseball as his St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 on Thursday night. Martinez allowed four hits, two walks, and struck out eight batters.

“That was another impressive outing,” said Manager Mike Matheny of Martinez on the FSN postgame. “You just watch the counts he was able to make pitches in, some of the reactions to the off-speed pitches. We know he has that kind of velocity, he was kind of just letting it go early and the movement was getting him some early groundballs which was helpful but when he got into big situations and needed a swing and miss, there really wasn’t one thing you could sit on because he had a good feel for the changeup, the breaking ball, and then was able to throw an upper-90s sinker. I mean, that’s a pretty good repertoire.”

Martinez improved to 10-3 with the victory and now has a 2.52 ERA for the season. He’s been even more impressive in his last eight starts, giving up just nine earned runs in 54.1 innings pitched.

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According to MLB, as of 7am on Thursday, Martinez ranked second in the balloting–trailing Cueto, who had 7.5 million votes. Troy Tulowitzki, Kershaw, and Jeurys Familia rounded out the five spots. The top four players were separated by only one percent.

Voting continues online at MLB.com until 3pm CT on Friday.

photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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