An extremely abbreviated Home Run Derby diary

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Given my view of it all,
you won’t be surprised to hear that I ended up only watching a fraction
of the Home Run Derby last night, but I’ll offer the following
observations:

— It took something like 20 minutes for the actual hitting to start
following the commencement of the broadcast. One would think that if
you’re hyping a Home Run Derby as much as ESPN was, you’d want to get
to some actual hitting eventually.

— Nelson Cruz was pretty impressive. Wasn’t expecting that.
Probably because I never get to see any Rangers games. I think I’ll
blame ESPN for that too.

— I get tired watching Prince Fielder simply walk around, so
watching him hack violently like he did last night was an exhausting
experience.

— Call me crazy, but I don’t know that I’d want my son to be one of
the kids who wipe down the sweaty ballplayers after they’re done
hitting. Very weird vibe.

— Berman might read CTB — or Deadspin — because in at least the parts I saw of it, he seemed to have ratcheted, um, back on the “back back backs” a good 50%

Greg Doyel of CBS Sports made a veiled accusation of steroid use by Brandon Inge yesterday. Wonder if he’s gonna take it back now that Inge didn’t hit a single dinger.

— The little comet trail thing they’re putting on the ball makes me
burn with an anger that is hotter than a thousand suns. Beyond stupid.
Who can’t follow the flight of a baseball? Who doesn’t have the
patience to see if the ball makes the stands? Half the time it doesn’t
even track the ball very well. Note to ESPN: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

— Adrian Gonzalez came to bat and Joe Buck made his way to the
broadcast desk. To review the bidding at that point, we had Berman,
Steve Phillips, Joe Buck, a contrived contest I can’t really get into,
and some lame, 1980s video game graphics on the ball. That’s when I
bailed. Congrats to Prince Fielder and everything, but my Ross MacDonald book was way, way more entertaining.

Look, I’ll fully admit that everyone looks like they’re having fun at
this thing. Especially all of the kids shagging flies in the outfield.
But it simply doesn’t work as televised entertainment. Perhaps if they
sped it up a bit, jacked the intensity somehow and made it into a
shorter and more direct contest the results would be better. Of course
that can’t happen because guys would get too tired and people wouldn’t
sit in the stands buying $8 beers for three hours.

All-Star Game tonight. You won’t be surprised to learn that I have a
million complaints about it too, but at least it’s baseball.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.