HR Derby: Juan Soto defeats Julio Rodriguez in final
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the Home Run Derby (all times local):
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Washington’s Juan Soto defeated Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez 19-18 in the final to capture the Home Run Derby title at Dodger Stadium.
Soto, who was competing in the Derby for the second time, had nine homers in the final minute of regulation in the two-minute final. He added four more in bonus time, his clinching blast coming with 19 seconds remaining. He threw his bat way in the air after the deciding shot cleared the fence.
Soto, the fourth seed, is the second Nationals player to win the Derby. Bryce Harper won it in 2018 in Washington.
Soto earns a $1 million prize and another highlight on his resume as his time with Washington possibly nears an end. The Athletic reported over the weekend that Soto turned down a $440 million, 15-year contract to stay with the Nationals, and he could be traded by the end of the month.
Washington’s Juan Soto advanced to the final with a 16-15 victory over St. Louis slugger and sentimental favorite Albert Pujols.
Soto, the fourth seed, hit a 405-foot shot with 31 seconds remaining in bonus time. He will face sixth seeded Julio Rodríguez of Seattle in the final.
The 42-year-old Pujols averaged 395 feet on his homers while 23-year-old Soto averaged 424 feet.
Soto is trying to become the second Nationals player to win the Derby. Bryce Harper won it in 2018 in Washington.
Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez spoiled Pete Alonso’s bid to become the first player to win three straight Home Run Derbies by beating the Mets slugger 31-23 in the semifinals.
The 21-year-old Rodríguez hit 18 in the final minute of regulation and the 60 seconds of bonus time. His top blast was 450 feet and he averaged 410 feet.
Alonso had 18 during the three minutes of regulation time. Alonso had nine over 440 feet, including one that went 463, and averaged 427 feet.
Rodriguez will face either St. Louis’ Albert Pujols or Washington’s Juan Soto in the final.
Eighth-seed Albert Pujols pulled off the biggest surprise of the first round, defeating No. 1 seed Kyle Schwarber in overtime.
Pujols had a total of 20 homers, including seven in the extra round. None of his drives went over 440 feet, but he did enough to advance with an average of 406 feet per homer.
Pujols, who played for the Dodgers part of last season, was the sentimental favorite among the players and fans. After the three-minute regulation session, Pujols was swarmed by cheering All-Stars along the third-base line.
“It is pretty awesome to see the young generation and all that talent. This is for you guys,” Pujols said after he was done. “It is pretty awesome to come back here one last time.”
Pujols, sure that Schwarber would top his regulation total of 13, told ESPN that he had already given away his batting gloves before having to retrieve them for OT.
It is the fifth straight time the top seed has been knocked off in the opening round.
Schwarber trailed by three going into the one-minute bonus time. He tied it with a 385-foot homer with 15 seconds remaining but couldn’t get another one over the fence to force a swing-off.
Schwarber had six in OT. The Phillies’ slugger had five go over 440 feet and averaged 419 feet.
Washington’s Juan Soto did not need bonus time in his matchup against Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez. Soto’s final home run as time expired gave the fourth seed an 18-17 victory.
Soto, the Derby’s No. 4 seed, established a quick pace with seven in the first minute. His 482-foot shot as time expired was the longest of the first three matchups. Soto established the Derby record with a 520-foot blast last year at Colorado.
Ramirez struggled to gain any consistency throughout his three minutes. He averaged 387 feet with a top blast of 421 feet.
Two-time defending Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso needed bonus time, but the New York Mets’ slugger was able to keep alive his hopes of being the first player to three-peat with a 20-19 victory over Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr.
Alonso — the Derby’s second seed — trailed by two going into bonus time, but he hit a 423-foot shot to center field with 31 seconds remaining to advance. He had seven go over 440 feet and averaged 429 feet per homer. He also had a 480-foot blast that bounced off the roof of the stands in left-center. Alonso had only five the first minute before warming up.
Acuña also only had five after the first minute. He averaged 408 feet per homer and only one that went over 440 feet — a 472-yard blast that also bounced off the roof in left field.
This is the second time Acuña has been eliminated by Alonso. The first was in the 2019 semifinals.
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Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez advanced to the second round of the All-Star Home Run Derby with a 32-23 win over Texas’ Corey Seager.
The Mariners’ rookie, who has not played at Dodger Stadium, was an underdog against Seager, who was with the Dodgers for seven seasons. He didn’t seem fazed. With Seattle great and three-time Derby champion Ken Griffey Jr. snapping photos on the field, Rodriguez had 10 drives over 440 feet and hit 19 during the final two minutes of regulation.
Rodriguez’s 32 homers averaged 420 feet, with his longest going for 463.
Seager had seven in the first minute but only six in the second to fall off the pace. His homers averaged 418 feet with the longest going for 451. He had three over 440 feet.
Seager has not advanced out of the opening round in either Derby appearance. He lost to Mark Trumbo while a rookie in 2016.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and the rest of the All-Star Home Run Derby field got a fiery welcome to the competition Monday.
All-Star organizers arrayed a series of fire-blasting devices around the stage where the eight participants stood during introductions, and they set off the flames after the introduction of each matchup. The flames were big and bright, and their heat could be felt even in the press box on the third level of Dodger Stadium, more than 200 feet away.
The players were perhaps a few dozen feet away, and they were clearly taken aback by the intense heat. Acuña and Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez reacted with fright when a huge burst went off behind them during another pair’s introduction.
When all eight competitors reached the stage, the organizers set off another huge burst of flames that sent Acuña taking two steps toward the edge of the stage away from the flames.
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