WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy had made some strides over the past two days in the push to start the 2016 All-Star Game. Then he improved his already strong case with his performance Wednesday in the Nationals' 4-2 victory over the Mets.
Murphy hammered a pair of home runs -- a solo blast in the second and two-run homer in the eighth -- for his first multi-homer game of the season. Murphy has gained on leader Ben Zobrist of the Cubs during the past two days to pull within 185,000 votes in the latest All-Star Game ballot update released Wednesday.
Murphy is second in the Majors in batting average (.352), while leading the Majors in hits (103) and multi-hit games (34) and ranking third in OPS (.984). He now has 14 homers on the season, matching the career high he set last season in just his 76th game of the year.
"I don't know. They just keep going over the fence," Murphy said. "It's a lot of work last year in New York and a lot of continued work here with [hitting coaches] Rick [Schu] and Jacque Jones."
The Nationals have a trio of candidates putting together strong cases to be among the starters when the voting period ends on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Murphy is joined by Wilson Ramos -- who ranks third among NL catchers and trails current leader Buster Posey -- and Bryce Harper, who would be among the starting outfielders alongside Dexter Fowler and Yoenis Cespedes.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Vote up to five times in any 24-hour period for a maximum of 35 times.
Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.
Following the announcement of the 2016 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 12, 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.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.