Yoenis Cespedes wins the 2013 Home Run Derby

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The winner of the Home Run Derby isn’t even an All-Star. But he’s here and his presence was validated: Yoenis Cespedes has won the 2013 Home Run Derby.

Cespedes hit 9 homers in the final round — his last traveling 455 feet — beating out Bryce Harper who had eight. Cespedes had 32 in all to Harper’s 24. In the team competition the the AL beat the NL 53 to 50. Cespedes did not have to use up all ten of his allotted outs in the second round. If he had, the AL — and Cespedes — likely would have had higher totals.

Harper was nothing if not consistent, hitting eight homers in each of the three rounds, but Cespedes seemed to have an entirely different gear tonight. His final round homers finding parts of the park that no competitor had found all night.

And so we have survived another Home Run Derby. They are fun for a while, then get a little tedious. But it was nice for once to see a competitor seem to grow stronger as the night went on rather than have the final round be somewhat anti-climactic. Oh, and it ended with Cespedes being awarded a brand new Chevy Silverado. So that’s nice for him.

That’s it from Citi Field for today. It’s been a long day of meet-and-greets, promotional events and weird exhibitions. Tomorrow we get the reason we’re all here: the All-Star Game.  Keep a window open with HardballTalk and NBCSports.com all day, as we’ll be hitting you with our best shots from morning until late in the night.

Mike Trout, Willson Contreras homer, A.L. leads 2-1 after three

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Aaron Judge did it first, Mike Trout did it next.

The best player in baseball — who spent the bottom of the second mic’d-up and talking to Joe Buck and John Smoltz about the weather and stuff — came to bat second in the top of the third inning, facing Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom. deGrom is used to pitching with no run support at this point so it’s not like he was uncomfortable I imagine, but you can only get so comfortable when Mike Trout is in the box. Trout took deGrom downtown. Or at the very least to left field to make it 2-0, American League.

The National League took that run right back in the bottom of the third. With the Rays’ Blake Snell in the game, Willson Contreras of the Cubs led off and he wasted no time, depositing Snell’s first pitch just over the railing in left to make it 2-1, American League.