News

Cespedes defends Home Run Derby title in Minnesota rain

Cespedes defends Home Run Derby title in Minnesota rain

HOME RUN:Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hoists the championship trophy after winning the 2014 Home Run Derby at Target Field in Minneapolis, July 14. Photo: Reuters/Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) – Oakland Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes brushed off the Minneapolis rain and worked his way through a revamped format to become only the second player to successfully defend baseball’s Home Run Derby title on Monday.

In the prelude to Tuesday’s All Star game, Cuban Cespedes came out top as baseball’s best long-ball hitters put on a display of strength, hand-eye coordination and timing after an hour-long rain delay at Target Field.

Only Seattle’s Ken Griffey Junior (1998-99) had previously won back-to-back titles in the contest, which has kicked off the All Star festivities since the mid 1980s.

This year’s event showcased a new format with five players each from the American and National Leagues competing in the opening round and competitors advancing to head-to-head matchups within their respective league until the final. Cespedes narrowly escaped the first round after he needed a tiebreaker swing-off to beat Oakland team mate Josh Donaldson.

From there, he caught fire as he smashed seven home runs to eliminate Toronto’s Jose Bautista and advance to the final, where he added nine more blasts to overpower Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds.

Bautista was the star of the first round where he powered 10 home runs.

This year’s exhibition included some fresh faces, including Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Miami’s young standout, Giancarlo Stanton, who was one of the favorites coming into the showcase.

Stanton reached the semi-final round but lost his form and was defeated by Frazier 1-0.

Puig, the flashy 23-year-old Cuban, could not deliver his usual excitement and failed to record a home run as he made a first-round exit.

Colorado’s Justin Morneau was also cast off in the opening round, but not before he received a rousing round of applause from the fans in Minnesota, where he played from 2003 to 2013.

Earlier in the day, All Star Game managers Mike Matheny (National League) and John Farrell (American League) named their starting lineups for the game.

Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright were named as starting pitchers.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

Recent Headlines

in National

Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2014, file photo, Amanda Knox prepares to leave the set following a television interview in New York. Knox is engaged to Colin Sutherland, a musician who recently moved to Seattle from New York, a person close to the Knox family confirmed for The Associated Press. Knox’s murder conviction in the 2007 stabbing of her roommate has been reinstated by an Italian court, but the former college exchange student maintains her innocence and vows she won’t willingly go back to Italy. Both Knox and Sutherland are 27. No wedding date had been set.

Italy's highest court has overturned the murder conviction against Amanda Knox, bringing to a definitive end the high-profile case.

in National

Time for Iran to make tough decisions in nuclear talks

In this March 26, 2015, photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, leaves a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials at a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland. U.S. and Iranian diplomats gather at a Baroque palace in Europe, a historic nuclear agreement within reach. Over Iraq’s deserts, their militaries fight a common foe. Leaders in Washington and Tehran, capitals once a million miles from each other in ideological terms, wrestle for the first time in decades with the notion of a rapprochement.

Six world powers and Iran move closer to a deal, but there are still major disagreements.

in Sports

This week’s top sports shots

AP564917773040_12

A look at some of the biggest plays and best photos in sports this week.

in Sports

This weekend’s sports schedule

playball

A look at some of this weekend's biggest sporting events.

in National

Making headlines this week

AP193442892434_0

A look at some of the week's biggest headlines and the stories you may have missed.