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Yoenis Cespedes wins Home Run Derby

Signal reports live from New York

Posted: July 15, 2013 10:01 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2013 10:01 p.m.

American League's Yoenis Cespedes, left, of the Oakland Athletics, celebrates with Robinson Cano after winning the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday in New York.

 

NEW YORK — With all the noise about getting a certain Cuban from Los Angeles to the All-Star Game, a different Cuban made the major impact of All-Star Monday.

Oakland Athletics outfielder and Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes defeated Washington boy prince Bryce Harper nine home runs to eight in the final round of the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field on a hot and muggy night.

Cespedes, the fourth non-All-Star participant to compete in the Home Run Derby, thrust his country to the forefront of baseball on Monday night, despite Dodger Yasiel Puig not earning a selection to Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

“I’m not sure if they were able to see this in Cuba, but I did talk to my 4-year-old son a few days ago and he told me whatever home runs I hit to please dedicate them to me, and that’s what I did today,” Cespedes said.

The 27-year-old Oakland star hit 17 home runs in the first round — aiming at multiple decks to left and right field, a glass encased restaurant, the Shea Bridge in right-center, the Mets’ famous “Big Apple” in center field and a pair of Chevrolet trucks to its sides.

He eventually hit one of the trucks as he added six in the second round and closed Harper out with nine in the last round.

“During the first two rounds while I took my first five swings, I felt I was really in a rhythm,” Cespedes said. “That I could put on a show like I did tonight.”

Cespedes hit nine home runs in the final round, but still had five outs to spare. His 32 home runs was tied for third all-time in a derby.

Bobby Abreu holds the record with 41, which he hit in 2005.

Afterward, he said if he would have known about the record, he would have kept going.

Harper, one of baseball’s youngest bright stars in an All-Star Week themed by All-Star first-timers and youth, chopped line drive after line drive, thrusting his body into every swing.

He connected with eight home runs in the first round and eight more in the second off his father, Ron Harper, who pitched to him.

The second round featured Cespedes, Harper, Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer and Major League home run leader and Baltimore’s Chris Davis.

The man known as Crush crashed, though.

Davis, whose 37 home runs before the All-Star Break tied Reggie Jackson’s American League record from 1969, didn’t get into a groove in the second round, as he hit only four.

That added to his eight home runs in the first round to set him at 12.

However, Davis’ first home run traveled 451 feet to center field and he did tear a callous in his hand in round two.

Cuddyer hit seven in the first round and eight in the second to finish with 15.

New York Met David Wright had the hometown crowd in his corner, but never got it going, ending the first round with five home runs.

Detroit’s Prince Fielder, the 2009 and 2012 Home Run Derby champion, also hit five first-round home runs.

Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez hit six and representing the Bronx, New York Yankee Robinson Cano hit four, much to the delight of partisan Queens crowd.

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