We made it, you guys.
Another Home Run Derby is in the rear view mirror, as Prince Fielder defeated Jose Bautista in the finals tonight to take home this year’s crown. It was Fielder’s second Home Run Derby win, the other coming back in 2009 in St. Louis. Ken Griffey, Jr., who won in 1994, 1998 and 1999, is the only other player who has won the competition more than once. Yes, they apparently keep records of this stuff.
Fielder slugged a total of 28 homers on the night, including five in the first round, 11 in the second round and 12 in the finals. Plenty of fountain splashes were had. Fielder’s 12 homers in the final round actually tied Robinson Cano’s final-round record from last year. He also had the longest blast of the night, checking in at 476 feet.
Bautista, who advanced by defeating Mark Trumbo in a swing-off, managed seven homers in the finals. He had 20 overall, including a first-round best of 11.
The National League was suffering from a serious lack of Giancarlo Stanton and it showed in the final tally, as they were crushed 61-21. NL captain Matt Kemp hit one only home run while Carlos Beltran was the only member of the squad to advance to the second round.
While the AL cruised to victory, they didn’t get any help from their captain Cano. He ended up with a goose egg, much to the delight of the Kauffman Stadium faithful. You see, the home crowd was upset that Cano didn’t pick Billy Butler for his squad. And they really let him have it. Almost uncomfortably so.
This is actually the second straight year that the home fans booed one of the Home Run Derby participants, as the Fielder was jeered by the Chase Field crowd last year for not picking Justin Upton. Next year the All-Star Game takes place at Citi Field, so expect lots of disappointment when Mike Nickeas isn’t chosen to participate.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.