Super Slugger: Mets’ Alonso wins the Home Run Derby again while outshining the star-studded competition

By Morris Phillips

DENVER–The greatest Home Run Derby ever? This one had all the elements.

Powerful hitters? Start with Pete Alonso, the defending champion with the tree trunk lower base and Popeye forearms. His first round of the night just turned out to be the biggest round ever with 35 home runs hit.

Exhausted hitters? For Sho… Shohei Ohtani looked gassed one minute into his first round, no doubt due to all the buildup surrounding his record-breaking exploits, not to mention having to be the last of the eight participants to hit. Ohtani was bested Juan Soto in round one, but that just means he’ll be better prepared for tomorrow’s starting pitching assignment and his spot leading off in the American League batting order. And no Ohtani didn’t flame out, he finished with a bang, pumping out 28 homers in his round, most of those in the final minute.

Hitters with amazing stories? Trey Mancini didn’t even play in the major leagues in 2020. Instead, the 27-year old successfully battled colon cancer and returned to action this season. His inclusion in the Derby was supposed to be a feel good story, but his first round elimination of Oakland’s Matt Olson was all in the swing. Mancini sent balls all over the yard, winning the duel 24-23. And the Orioles’ slugger followed that up by ousting hometown favorite Trevor Story, 13-12 proving that it’s always better to go last and not hit even one more home run than necessary to advance.

Of course, the setting of the contest–Coors Field in Denver–had a major impact on the quality of the contest. From the mile high locale to the baseballs not being run through the well-known humidor, the stage was set for a record-breaking event. The Rockpile beware! Here come the bombs!

The longest HR of the evening? Only by a couple of feet, that distinction went to Washington’s Juan Soto, whose longest blast traveled 520 feet. Ohtani and Alonso put themselves in this competition with shots that each traveled 513 feet. Soto’s homer reached the second deck in right center and was greeted by a section of wildly delighted–and disbelieving–fans.

Hey don’t forget about me! I’m exhausted too! Mets bench coach Dave Jauss, 64-years old and high-minded courtesy of his Amherst education, pitched gopher balls to Alonso through three rounds, and based on the prodigious totals, did an incredible job. Jauss is the son of Bill Jauss, the well-known sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune. He’s also an older, but successful, parent: his son, D.J. was drafted in the MLB Draft in 2014.

And the winner? Alonso made it back-to-back titles hitting 23 homers in the final round to best Mancini. Alonso thoroughly enjoyed the moment, spinning his gaudy Derby Champ necklace presented by Ken Griffey Jr. and pounding his chest until he was heartily greeted by Mancini. Alonso became only the fourth contestant to win the Derby twice. Yoenis Cespedes was the last to win back-to-back in 2015.

MLB The Show podcast with Matt Harrington: Braves get back-to-back division titles; Fiers lights out for A’s again; plus more

Photo credit: talkingchop.com

On the MLB The Show podcast with Matt:

#1 The Atlanta Braves are for the second season in a row division winners in the NL East with a victory over the San Francisco Giants. Never an easy task to win a second division championship, but the Braves pulled it off.

#2 The Braves players celebrated after the game in the waterfall pool just beyond the outfield fence wrapping up the night. The players posed for a photo while standing in the pool.

#3 It was Oakland A’s Mike Fiers bobblehead night. Who threw a no-hitter on May 7 this season, Fiers on his pitch of the game gave up a hit to Texas Rangers lead-off hitter Shin-Soo Choo, but pitched a very controlled game afterwards threw eight innings of shutout ball.

#4 The New York Mets’ Pete Alonso was the second rookie to hit 50 home runs. Quite an accomplishment from Alonso, whose had a great year so far.

#5 The Washington Nationals got a big win over the Miami Marlins 6-4 to hang onto first place in the NL Wild Card. The Nats’ Trea Turner hit two home runs and Asdrubal Cabrera hit one in the win.

Matt Harrington does the MLB The Show podcast each Saturday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Giants Yastrzemski wins it 3-2 with a walk off in 12 innings

photo from sfgate.com: San Francisco Giants’ Mike Yastrzemski hits a solo home run against the New York Mets during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, July 21, 2019.

SAN FRANCISCO-Mike Yastrzemski ended the weekend series with one swing of the bat for the San Francisco Giants.

Yastrzemski hit a changeup off of Robert Gsellman on a 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the 12th that landed in the left field bleachers giving the Giants a dramatic 3-2 victory over the New York Mets before a crowd of 35,406 at Oracle Park.

It was the first career walk-off home run for Yastrzemski and his 9th home run of the season for the rookie.

The Yastrzemski walk-off gave the Giants three wins in four games over the Mets, and they have won eight out of their last nine, 11 out of 13 and 15 out of 18.

This was also the fifth consecutive series win for the Giants since splitting the four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks from June 27-30.

Despite not faring in the decision, Connor Menes went five innings, allowing two runs on three hits, walking three and striking out six in his major-league debut.

Menes got into trouble in the first inning, when J.D. Davis doubled with one out in the inning; however, Kevin Pillars defense came up huge again.

Pillar made a great running catch off a Pete Alonso hit ball, and was able to regroup to throw out Davis at third base to end the inning.

It was the team-leading sixth outfield assist for Pillar, and the MLB leading 25th outfield assists for the Giants as a team this season.

Steven Matz went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits, walking just one and striking out six and like Menes, he did not fare in the decision.

Zach Green like Menes, made a great first impression for his new teammates, as he picked up two hits in his first two at-bats in the major leagues.

It was Greens double in the bottom of the fourth inning that scored Buster Posey tied up game, and that was the score until Yastrzemski’s home run in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Michael Conforto got the Mets on the board in the top of the second inning, as he hit his 18th home run of the season that landed in McCovey Cove and it was the 125th Splash Hit since the Park opened in 2000 and the 47th by an opponent.

Two batters later, Michael Conforto gave the Mets a 2-0 lead, as he hit his 11th home run of the season.

After the Rosario home run in the top of the second inning, the next Mets hit did not come until there was one out in the top of the 11th inning, when Davis singled off of Mark Melancon.

Trevor Gott pitched the 12th inning to pick-up the victory, as he raises his record to 6-0 on the season.

In all, the bullpen of Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, Will Smith, Melancon and Gott went a combined seven innings, allowing zero runs on two hits, walking two and striking out eight.

NOTES: To make room for Menes and Green on the roster, Ty Blach was optioned to Sacramento and Derek Holland and Ryder Jones were both Designated for release or assignment.

Pillar was ejected by home plate umpire Mark Rippenger in the bottom of the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes. This was Pillars first ejection as a Giant, and the second of his career.

UP NEXT: Shaun Anderson will take to the Oracle Park mound on Monday night, as the Chicago Cubs invade the Bay Area for their only trip this season. Alec Mills will take the mound for the Cbs]