Jul 13, 2015, 7:00 PM EST
CINCINNATI — Hello from Great American Ball Park, where the sun actually is shining at the moment but is not expected to throughout the evening. There was already one major storm that swept through town this afternoon, and there’s another one coming before the end of the night. With that in mind, MLB decided to tweak the already-new timing rules on tonight’s Home Run Derby in an attempt to speed things up and get the event finished before the real heavy stuff arrives.
There’s a whole new format to the Derby this season, with a bracket format that pits the majors’ (healthy) home run leader (Albert Pujols) against the competitor with the fewest home runs to date (Kris Bryant). So, the 1-seed faces the 8-seed, the 2-seed faces the 7-seed, and so on and so forth.
There’s also a clock involved for the first time. Players originally were going to have 5 minutes apiece to take as many swings as they liked. Now, with the weather situation, that number is down to 4 minutes. There’s also the opportunity for 30 seconds to be added based on home run distance.
Should be a fun event as always. Enjoy…
2015 MLB HOME RUN DERBY
Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 8 p.m. EDT
Radio: 92.7 FM, 94.3 FM, 980 AM
Weather: Storms late, 72 degrees, Wind 6 mph RF to LF
1-Albert Pujols vs. 8-Kris Bryant
4-Joc Pederson vs. 5-Manny Machado
3-Josh Donaldson vs. 6-Anthony Rizzo
2-Todd Frazier vs. 7-Prince Fielder
Pujols/Bryant vs. Pederson/Machado
Donaldson/Rizzo vs. Frazier/Fielder
Semifinal Winner 1 vs. Semifinal Winner 2
8:10 p.m. — And we are ready to get started here in front of a packed house. First up is Albert Pujols (still booed here even though he doesn’t play for the hated Cardinals anymore) vs. the rookie Kris Bryant.
8:27 p.m. — Well, this whole time limit thing definitely adds a new twist to this event. Anthony Rizzo looked downright exhausted after his 4 minutes were up (and that was with one timeout called a minute in). He got off to a slow start but then picked things up and finished with 8 homers … only to bested by Josh Donaldson, who totaled nine, including a 465-foot bomb way into the upper deck down the third-base line. So Donaldson moves onto Round 2 and will face either Todd Frazier or Prince Fielder.
8:46 p.m. — OK, I’ll admit it: This new format is pretty cool. Because it gives us moments like the one we just got. Fielder had hit 13 homers in his 4 minutes (plus 30 bonus seconds) and that put Cincinnati’s own Frazier in a tough spot. Frazier, though, pulled it off with a flair for the dramatic. He hit his 13th homer with about 10 seconds to spare, tying Fielder. Then with the crowd in a frenzy, he stepped up again needing to hit one more homer during his 30 bonus seconds. He only needed two of those seconds, blasting the first pitch to left-center to “walk-off” Fielder. That was very cool. So it’s Donaldson vs. Frazier in one of the semifinals.
9:05 p.m. — Impressive display by Manny Machado, who hit his homers in bunches in the first round. That included three in a row on two separate occasions, including during the final 30 seconds of his 4-minute round. Machado added two more in bonus time, laying down the gauntlet for Joc Pederson … who answered the challenge in even more impressive fashion. The Dodgers rookie launched 10 homers in the first two minutes alone, then after a timeout got to 13 with a full 1:07 to spare. So Pederson moves on and Machado is eliminated despite his 12 homers.
9:24 p.m. — The other rookie in this field, Kris Bryant, didn’t fare as well as Pederson. Bryant got off to a slow start and despite a late push could only get to nine homers. That set the stage for the evening’s final participant, Albert Pujols, to deliver the first buzzer-beater in baseball history. Sitting on 9 homers and with the clock winding down, Pujols launched one more homer to left just as the clock struck zero. So Pujols is on to the semifinals to face Pederson.
9:47 p.m. — Todd Frazier has done it again, and this crowd is loving every minute of it. After Josh Donaldson belted nine homers in his semifinal round, Frazier stepped to the plate to a huge roar. He was sitting on eight homers with about a minute to go, then kept coming up short. Finally, he launched one off the black batter’s eye in center field to tie Donaldson with 8 seconds to go, then won it on his next swing. Can’t believe it, but the Home Run Derby has become fun again, and all it took was the addition of a clock to the event. Frazier makes it to the finals, where he’ll face either Albert Pujols or Joc Pederson.
10:10 p.m. — More high drama in the other semifinal, except this time somebody ran out of time. After Pederson hit 12 homers in his round, Pujols tried his best to catch him, getting to 11 in the bonus 30 seconds. But his last flyball to deep center landed short of the fence, and BP pitcher Dino Ebel couldn’t throw the next pitch in time. So Pederson wins 12-11 and now goes on to face Frazier in the finals. Wonder who the crowd will be rooting for here…
10:34 p.m. — It’s over, it’s all over! Todd Frazier does it again, winning in a dramatic walk-off, 15-to-14. Pederson got off to a slow start in his finals round but then went bananas, homering on six consecutive swings at one point. He had 13 when the 4-minute clock expired, then added another in the bonus round, putting up a really big number for Frazier to have to top. But he did it. He launched No. 14 with 12 seconds to go, then hit the winner at the start of the bonus round. Very cool event. Couldn’t script that any better.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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