Programming note: Orioles-A’s coverage starts Friday at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
New format, same result in the Home Run Derby for Yoenis Cespedes.
The A’s left fielder put on another long-distance show Monday night, clobbering the Cincinnati Reds’ Todd Frazier in the finals, 9-1, to become the Derby’s first back-to-back champion since Ken Griffey Jr., back in 1998-99.
To do it, he needed to first get past teammate Josh Donaldson in a ‘swing-off’ to advance out of the first round. They each hit three in the first round, then Cespedes topped Donaldson 2-1 to advance.
This year’s contest featured a new bracket-style format, and while others seemed to weaken as they advanced, Cespedes appeared to gain strength, lashing a combination of screaming liners and towering blasts, most into the second deck in left and one reaching the upper deck during the finals. His longest homer in the finals went 452 feet (projected distance 509 feet).
[RELATED: Home Run Derby tracker]
Last year Cespedes won the title at Citi Field in New York with 32 total homers. This year he hit 30.
“I think when the lights are the brightest and the public is watching more than ever, it truly motivates me, and makes me want to do my best,” Cespedes said through interpreter Pedro Gomez.
Frazier advanced to the finals in shocking fashion, hitting just one homer in the National League final. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, the favorite in the minds of many to win it all, did not homer a single time in seven swings.
Frazier let Cespedes hit first in the overall final, and Cespedes drilled nine homers.
Down went Frazier, who managed just one in his round.
Probably the most tired person after the Derby was A’s third base coach Mike Gallego, who served as Cespedes’ pitcher for the second consecutive season.
Several of Cespedes’ Oakland teammates watched from the sidelines as Cespedes put on his show. He beat Baltimore’s Adam Jones in the second round and then dispatched of A.L. captain Jose Bautista in the A.L. final, 7-4.
Now Cespedes will join five other A’s teammates in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, as the A.L. tries to win the contest to secure home field advantage in the World Series, a development that will interest everyone in green and gold as the A’s currently hold the majors’ best record at 59-36.