DENVER — Coors Field, without its humidor, could not hold Pete Alonso.
The quirky Mets’ slugger – who bopped his head to the beat of the music prior to rounds and during timeouts before unloading his massive right upper-cut swing – clubbed 74 homers overall to defend his All Star Home Run Derby championship.
"I was able to stay consistent and pretty much dominate,'' Alonso said.
>>Video above: Former Colorado stars return home for the All-Star Game
Alonso beat colon-cancer survivor Trey Mancini in the finals, 23 homers to 22 with Alonso clinching it with 35 seconds remaining.
To give an idea how far power has come in the majors -- and Major League Baseball's willingness to use juiced up baseballs for entertainment purposes -- Ken Griffey Jr. won the first All Star Home Run Derby at Coors Field in 1998 with a three-round total of 19.
All 8 hitters Monday hit at least 19 in round one.
Yes, it was a different format then with HR Derby participants hitting as many homers as they could before they got 10 outs. The outs were changed to a time limit in 2015, a modification that greatly enhanced the Derby for fans and number of homers hit.
The Rockies’ Trevor Story acquitted himself well, edging Joey Gallo, 20 homers to 19 to win his first-round matchup before falling to Mancini in the second round, 13-12. Mancini missed the entire the 2020 season to deal with his colon cancer.
“His resiliency and story is amazing,’’ Story said. “I was able to tell him that. What he’s doing, it’s really inspiring. Couldn’t think of a better guy to fall to, but after the second round, we were so tired.”
Story’s second homer in the first round went a Coors Field record 518 feet – which was broken later in the first round when Juan Soto hammered a ball 520 feet to the right field upper deck.
“I couldn’t tell you which one it was, honestly,’’ Story said of his 518-foot blast. “There were a lot of swings, a lot of contact going on. So, yeah, that’s pretty cool, though.”
The first round featured an exhilarating matchup between Soto, Washington’s still young star, and the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, the odds-on and crowd favorite. Both hitters clubbed 22 homers in their first full round of swings with Ohtani overcoming an early rut of grounders and liners. (Under the old "outs" format, Ohtani would have finished with 0 homers).
Soto and Ohtani each hit 6 homers in the 1 minute tiebreaker round – Ohtani had Soto tied with five or six swings remaining in the round but couldn’t deliver.
“The last 30 seconds of the first tiebreaker, very tired,’’ Ohtani said through his interpreter.
Next came a three-swing playoff. Soto homered in all three swings. When Ohtani hit a grounder on his first swing, the favorite was defeated.
The most dominant first-round performance was turned in by Alonso, the defending champ from 2019 (there was no Derby in 2020 because of COVID-19). He hit 35 homers in the first round, easily tops among the 8 participants. He beat the Royals’ Salvador Perez who had the second-best first-round total with 28 homers (not including the Soto-Ohtani tiebreaker).
After Mancini defeated Story in the second round, Alonso beat Soto, 16-15.
Alonso credited his BP pitcher Dave Jauss for sharing his championship.
"He put it right in the bread basket, right in the honey hole,'' Alonso said.
But in the end, "I feel like I'm the best power hitter on the planet,'' Alonso said.
No one watching the Home Run Derby on Monday night would argue.
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