Alonso defeats Mancini and Ohtani to win his second HR Derby title in a row.
On a night of record long balls in the thin Rocky Mountain air of Coors Field, Pete Alonso danced to his second straight Home Run Derby victory, defeating Shohei Ohtani, Trey Mancini, and Juan Soto.
AP Baseball Writer RONALD BLUM
DENVER, Colo. (AP) — On a night of record long balls in the thin Rocky Mountain air of Coors Field, Pete Alonso danced to his second straight Home Run Derby victory, defeating Shohei Ohtani, Trey Mancini, and Juan Soto.
He beat Mancini 23-22 in the final round Monday, joining Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14) as the only players to win consecutive World Series titles.
Alonso, who was batting second, trailed 22-17 after the first two minutes of the final round, but then smashed six home runs in the first 28 seconds of his final minute.
As the longball tournament returned after a one-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Mancini, who returned this season following cancer treatment, was the sentimental favorite, while Alonso was the most excited of the eight sluggers.
Alonso was a human bobblehead in the batter’s box, nodding on the beat as he stepped out and danced, with custom bats in the Mets’ royal blue and orange, as well as matching shoes and batting gloves. During a timeout, he moved with his arms to rouse the crowd.
New York’s 26-year-old first baseman has a chance to join Griffey as the only three-time winner, having also won in 1994.
Alonso blasted 35 home runs in the first round, seven more than Josh Hamilton did in 2008 at the old Yankee Stadium, and surpassed Kansas City’s Salvador Pérez with 27. In the second round, Alonso, hitting second, defeated Soto 16-15. The longest drive of the night went 514 feet for Alonso.
Mancini missed the 2020 season while getting treatment for stage 3 colon cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which he completed on Sept. 21. Before the All-Star break, the 29-year-old Baltimore Orioles’ first baseman hit.256 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs. Dr. Nilo Azad, his oncologist, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Camden Yards on Friday night before the Orioles faced the Chicago White Sox.
Soto wowed the 49,048-strong audience with a 520-foot home run, the longest in the Statcast era, surpassing Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees’ 513-foot shot in Miami in 2017. Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs was claimed to have hit one 524 feet in Milwaukee in 2002, clearing Bernie Brewer’s slide, before Statcast.
Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels superstar who was scheduled to start on the mound and hit leadoff as the American League’s designated hitter in the All-Star Game, got off to a sluggish start but forced two rounds of tiebreakers with Soto before losing 31-28 in the second round.
After regulation, they were tied 22-22, and after the first tiebreaker, they were tied 28-28. On the next tiebreak, Soto homered on all three of his swings, while Ohtani grounded out on his first swing.
Mancini defeated Oakland’s Matt Olson in the opening round, 24-23, with a deep foul on his final stroke.
Olson described him as a “nice man.” “To be able to battle as he did and come back and play like he has this year speaks a lot about him, his guts and toughness.”
When Texas’ Joey Gallo popped out on his final swing, Story won 20-19.
“It’s exhausting,” Gallo said, “but it was a lot of fun the first time.”
In the second round, Mancini defeated Story 13-12, hitting second.