Bryce Harper on the Home Run Derby: 'It was unbelievable'
NEW YORK — They've been holding the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game since 1985, and they've been holding it in primetime since 1998, but tonight for the first time somebody wearing a Washington cap will be participating in the annual display of raw power.
Bryce Harper makes his Derby debut, and there's every reason to believe the Nationals' 20-year-old slugger will feel right at home in this event. He did, after all, win a similar contest as a 16-year-old amateur in 2009. And he'll have a familiar face pitching to him: his father, Ron.
Harper faces stiff competition in the Derby, most notably Orioles masher Chris Davis and Tigers first baseman (and defending champ) Prince Fielder, but he's got as good a shot at winning this thing as anybody else in the field.
Chase Hughes and I are both here at Citi Field to chronicle it, and we'll combine to post updates along the way, so please be sure to check back throughout...
10:58 p.m. — Cespedes need just six outs before plastering a ball into left-center field for his ninth of the round, the killshot to win the 2013 MLB Home Run Derby. The Oakland slugger flipped the bat and started walking towards the A.L. bench before the ball even landed. Great theater on a Monday night at Citi Field as Harper finishes second.
10:44 p.m. — Hughes: Eight homers in the first round, eight in the second, and eight in the finals for Harper. A solid showing by the 20-year-old Nats outfielder, but will it be enough? Harper also got hit by one of his dad's pitches which provided a pretty funny moment. All those cut fastballs inside to Harper and one got away from him. Cespedes up next, we'll see if Harper's total can hold up.
10:33 p.m. — Hughes: Cespedes could have just punted it in the second round as he was already guaranteed a spot in the finals. But with charity money on the line, the A's outfielder belted six homers to put his nightly total to 23. He moves on to face Harper in the finals. Of interesting note, however, was the revelation that Chris Davis suffered a cut on his left hand sometime during his second round at-bat. He was seen holding a bandage on the injury while watching from the bench after he was eliminated.
10:17 p.m. — Zuckerman: There you have it: It's Bryce Harper vs. Yoenis Cespedes in the finals. Harper blasted eight more homers in the second round to advance to the finals, eliminating Cuddyer. He looked pretty gassed by the end. He'll hope to catch his breath before he heads back out there for the final round, where the totals will be reset.
10:03 p.m. — Hughes: Chris Davis' night is done after the slugger mustered only four home runs in the second round. He finishes with 12 in the cumulative first two rounds, behind Cespedes who had 17 in the first round alone and Cuddyer who has 15 overall. Davis gave a few crowd pleasing shots to right-center field, continuing to show his ability to hit to opposite field. He also provided an entertaining moment with eight outs in the second round, calling on teammate Adam Jones to bring him a drink of water and a change of batting gloves. Davis is out with Harper and Cespedes still to go.
9:53 p.m. — Zuckerman: Another solid showing from Cuddyer in the second round. He blasted eight more homers, giving him 15 total over the two rounds. Which means Harper and Davis will need to hit at least seven more to force a swing-off for the finals. Davis is up first, then Harper, with Cespedes last this round.
9:40 p.m. — Zuckerman: Obviously, David Wright was the sentimental favorite here tonight, but the Mets third baseman isn't quite the slugger these other guys are, and it showed. Wright finished with only five homers, besting only Cano's four. The good news: Harper has clinched a spot in the second round. It'll be Cespedes (17), Harper (8), Davis (8) and Cuddyer (7) advancing. And remember: the first-round totals carry over. So Cespedes is looking good to reach the finals against one of the other three.
9:31 p.m. — Hughes: American League captain Robinson Cano and home run derby veteran will not be moving on to the second round after a poor outing that saw only four home runs. He recorded outs on his final five swings despite taking a water break with eight outs. The good news for Nats and Orioles fans as it means Harper and Davis are on to the second round. This could be fun.
9:23 p.m. — Zuckerman: The first takeaway from Bryce Harper's first round in the Derby: Ron Harper is a better iron worker than batting practice pitcher. Bryce's pop had some trouble finding the strike zone with consistency, and that seemed to frustrate Bryce a bit early on. But he did finally find his groove and wound up with eight homers, tied for the second-most so far tonight and ensuring he'll at worst be in a swing-off with Chris Davis to advance to the second round. Harper hit homers to all fields, including an oppo-boppo to left-center. He also crushed one 471 feet to right-center, the second-longest homer hit so far tonight (behind only Prince Fielder's 483-foot missile). All in all, a good showing for Harper, who now waits to see if he advances. Only Robinson Cano and David Wright left.
9:12 p.m. — Hughes: Chris Davis finished off the first round with eight home runs despite ending with outs on his last five attempts. He displayed an impressive amount of opposite field power, pelting several to right-center and a few straight down the pike. Davis even knocked one off the back door of the extended cab Chevy in right-center which I believe means a fan wins it. He also hit the other Chevy in center off one bounce. Eight homers puts Davis in second place, at least for now. Bryce Harper is up next so stay tuned.
8:56 p.m. — Zuckerman: Pedro Alvarez got off to a slow start, making four straight outs to begin his round. But the Pirates slugger (and New York native) rebounded well, finishing with six homers (four of them reaching the second deck in right field). He currently sits in third place, behind Cespedes (17) and Cuddyer (7), with Fielder (5) bringing up the rear. And now it's time for the DMV to take center stage. Chris Davis is up next, with Bryce Harper to follow.
8:48 p.m. — Hughes: Please tell me you were watching the show Cespedes just put on. Invited to the derby despite not being an All-Star, the Cuban-native blasted 17 home runs in the first round. He hit them to dead center, he hit them opposite field, he even hit them to the third deck in left field. I am seated in the auxiliary press box in left and the ones to the third deck just disappeared into the night over my head. An unbelievable display of power by the Oakland Athletics outfielder. Pedro Alvarez is up next.
8:31 p.m. — Zuckerman: David Wright took some heat for selecting Virginia Beach pal Michael Cuddyer for this event, but the Rockies outfielder just acquitted himself quite well in the first round. Cuddyer blasted seven home runs, including two on the "gold" ball that they start using once you get to nine outs. He reached the second deck in left field twice. He almost hit the truck behind the center-field fence. All in all, a strong showing for Cuddyer. So he's the early leader in the clubhouse with seven. Next up: Yoenis Cespedes.
8:23 p.m. — Hughes: Two-time derby champion Prince Fielder started things off tonight with five home runs, including four pulled to right field and an absolute moonshot to right-center. Fielder hit the latter with nine outs, crushing it 424 feet over the Wise Snacks sign which is basically the upper deck. He hit homers on his first two swings, but tailed off towards the end with four outs on his last five attempts. Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies is up next.
2013 HOME RUN DERBY
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 8 p.m. EDT
Radio: WTEM (980 AM), WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 88 degrees, Wind 6 mph LF to RF
Prince Fielder (DET)
Yoenis Cespedes (OAK)
Chris Davis (BAL)
Robinson Cano (NYY)
Michael Cuddyer (COL)
Pedro Alvarez (PIT)
Bryce Harper (WASH)
David Wright (NYM)