News

Cespedes defends Home Run Derby title in Minnesota rain

Cespedes defends Home Run Derby title in Minnesota rain

HOME RUN:Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hoists the championship trophy after winning the 2014 Home Run Derby at Target Field in Minneapolis, July 14. Photo: Reuters/Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) – Oakland Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes brushed off the Minneapolis rain and worked his way through a revamped format to become only the second player to successfully defend baseball’s Home Run Derby title on Monday.

In the prelude to Tuesday’s All Star game, Cuban Cespedes came out top as baseball’s best long-ball hitters put on a display of strength, hand-eye coordination and timing after an hour-long rain delay at Target Field.

Only Seattle’s Ken Griffey Junior (1998-99) had previously won back-to-back titles in the contest, which has kicked off the All Star festivities since the mid 1980s.

This year’s event showcased a new format with five players each from the American and National Leagues competing in the opening round and competitors advancing to head-to-head matchups within their respective league until the final. Cespedes narrowly escaped the first round after he needed a tiebreaker swing-off to beat Oakland team mate Josh Donaldson.

From there, he caught fire as he smashed seven home runs to eliminate Toronto’s Jose Bautista and advance to the final, where he added nine more blasts to overpower Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds.

Bautista was the star of the first round where he powered 10 home runs.

This year’s exhibition included some fresh faces, including Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Miami’s young standout, Giancarlo Stanton, who was one of the favorites coming into the showcase.

Stanton reached the semi-final round but lost his form and was defeated by Frazier 1-0.

Puig, the flashy 23-year-old Cuban, could not deliver his usual excitement and failed to record a home run as he made a first-round exit.

Colorado’s Justin Morneau was also cast off in the opening round, but not before he received a rousing round of applause from the fans in Minnesota, where he played from 2003 to 2013.

Earlier in the day, All Star Game managers Mike Matheny (National League) and John Farrell (American League) named their starting lineups for the game.

Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright were named as starting pitchers.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

Latest Stories

in Entertainment

Actor James Shigeta dies at 81

Fresh
Miyoshi Umeki and James Shigeta star in Flower Drum Song in 1961.

"Die Hard," "Lost Horizon" and "Mulan" star, James Shigeta, dies at 81.

in National, World

U.S says Russia violated nuclear treaty, urges immediate talks

Fresh
FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. Obama and Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during their bilateral meeting.

In another sign of deteriorating relations, the U.S. government claims that Moscow has violated the Cold War treaty.

in National, World

Civilians killed in eastern Ukraine amid fierce fighting

Fresh
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard on the suburbs of Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region on July 28, 2014.

Intense fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine kills at least 19 civilians.

in National

Toy drone disrupts aircraft fighting California wildfire

Fresh
Firefighters protect an evacuated home while the fast-moving wildfire called "Sand Fire" burns behind, near Plymouth, California on July 26, 2014.

Fire officials spotted a drone over the Sand Fire and immediately called police to have the toy grounded to avoid a possible mid-air collision.

in Sports

Judge gives go-ahead for $2 billion sale of NBA’s Clippers

Fresh
With her attorney Pierce O'Donnell, right, Shelly Sterling, center, talks to reporters after a judge ruled in her favor and against her estranged husband, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the NBA basketball team, outside Los Angeles Superior Court, Monday, July 28, 2014.

Shelly Sterling can proceed with the record $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers despite her husband's objections, a judge ruled on Monday.