KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder won the Home Run Derby for the second time in four years on Monday by outslugging Jose Bautista in an enthralling match-up of two of the game’s top long-ball hitters.
Fielder, who won the title in 2009, blasted 12 homers in the championship round, while Bautista managed only seven in the annual event as part of the run-up to Tuesday’s All Star Game.
One of the game’s top sluggers, Fielder started slowly with only five homers in the first round but had 11 in the second before his record-tying 12 in the final round.
Fielder, whose 28 homers averaged 432 feet, admitted hitting in this kind of competition is hard.
“You see me, I‘m sweating, out of breath, and it’s definitely not easy,” he said. “It’s just, you know, if you get in a groove and have a good thrower like I did, good things can happen.”
Fielder and Ken Griffey, Jr., who took the crown in 1994, 1998 and 1999, are the only players to win the competition more than once.
Bautista, whose 27 homers this year is tied for the AL lead, was even with Los Angeles Angels slugger Mark Trumbo after two rounds but won a playoff to reach the championship round against Fielder.
Trumbo and Bautista had 13 homers apiece after two rounds, while Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals had 12 to miss out on a chance for the title.
Each player remained at the plate until he got 10 “outs”, any swing that did not result in a home run, per round.
The top four homer hitters moved on to the second round and the players with the two top combined totals for rounds one and two advanced to the finals.
Those not making it beyond the first round were: Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies (four homers); Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates (four); Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers (one); and defending champion Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees(zero).
The loudest outburst from the crowd was actually a round of jeers for Cano, who, as captain of the AL squad, failed to choose Kansas City designated hitter Billy Butler for the four-man crew.
Each time Cano, who was sporting gold cleats for the occasion, failed to hit a home run, the sold-out crowd of more than 40,000 erupted in delight.
Cano earned a measure of revenge as the AL out-homered their counterparts 61-21.
The longest shot of the night was a 476-foot monster Fielder smacked that landed in the Kauffman Stadium fountains in centerfield. The Tigers first baseman had the four longest homers of the night.
Editing by Ian Ransom/Peter Rutherford