MLB

Ohtani misfires as Alonso wins back-to-back Home Run Derby titles

By Sports Desk July 12, 2021

Pete Alonso proved his own claim that he is the "best power hitter in the game" after being crowned back-to-back Home Run Derby champion at Denver's Coors Field on Monday.

Alonso, who was the winner in 2019 before last year's event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, defeated Baltimore Orioles' Trey Mancini 23-22 in the final.

The head-bopping New York Mets slugger, who batted second, finished the job with six home runs in a row in bonus time, winning with 35 seconds left.

Alonso was the dominant hitter throughout the derby as Los Angeles Angels' two-way top seed Shohei Ohtani, failed to fire, losing to Juan Soto 31-28 in the first round after being tied twice.

The 26-year-old Mets right-hander defeated Kansas City's Salvador Perez 35-28 in the first round, before knocking off Soto 16-15 with 50 seconds to go in the semi-finals.

"I've done this before and I'm extremely confident in my ability to hit the ball out of the yard," Alonso said. "I feel like I'm the best power hitter in the game. It was on display tonight."

Alonso continued his domination in the final against Mancini, who had a great run to the final having overcome stage three colon cancer only 12 months ago.

"Trey's story is unbelievable," Alonso said. "Everybody in the derby put on a show. I'm just happy he was able to participate and put on a show."

Florida-born Alonso would not commit to chasing a third Home Run Derby title despite admitting winning it "never gets old".

"I don’t know, we'll see," he said. "I'm going to enjoy this one for now. I'll have to think about it, but this event is so fun."

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    Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker compared Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to NFL greats Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski after the star pair helped take down the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

    Altuve and Correa each homered for the Astros, who rallied to top the Red Sox 5-4 in Friday's ALCS opener at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

    The Astros wiped out a 3-1 deficit behind Altuve's two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason home run as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

    Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th playoff homer – tied for seven-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th postseason RBI, the most among active players.

    Baker hailed Altuve and Correa after the Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven matchup, likening them to Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstars Brady and Gronkowski.

    "It's kind of like Tom Brady and [Rob] Gronkowski," Baker said, with Brady and Gronkowski enjoying great success together with the New England Patriots and now the Buccaneers.

    "They know how they think. They know probably what they eat for dinner, what they like and what their kids like."

    Altuve became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs.

    The World Series winner has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

    "He is just so dangerous," Correa said of Altuve. "His track record in the playoffs is insane, and he just inspires me. He inspires me without saying much."

    "When I walk into that clubhouse in spring training and I see this guy that has won MVPs, Silver Sluggers, batting titles, Gold Gloves, Hank Aaron Awards," added Correa. "Every single award you can imagine, he has won it, and then he shows up to spring training wanting to work on different things to get even better."

    Correa celebrated his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

    "He is amazing. He likes this kind of game," Altuve said of Correa. "He wants to go out there and hit big homers. It seems like he expects to go out there and do it, so if you're expecting something, eventually you're going to make it happen, and that's him."

    Correa's heroics prompted the Astros star to drop his bat and point to his wrist after homering against the Red Sox.

    "It's to my team-mates," Correa explained. "When the playoffs start, they always tell me 'it's your time now to go out there, hit homers.' They told me to hit the watch, when I hit the homer.

    "I did it in Chicago [in the ALDS] the first time on my own, and today they told me 'if you hit a homer, hit them with the, it's your time'."

  • MLB playoffs 2021: Astros draw first blood against Red Sox in ALCS MLB playoffs 2021: Astros draw first blood against Red Sox in ALCS

    Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve lifted the Houston Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

    Correa and Altuve homered as the rallying Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven series at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday.

    The Red Sox, who stunned the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series (ALDS), led 3-1 early on the road – Kike Hernandez the architect with a solo shot in the third inning.

    But the Astros wiped out the deficit behind Altuve and 6.1 scoreless innings from their bullpen.

    Altuve levelled the game with a two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason homer as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

    The Astros star also became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs. Altuve has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

    Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th postseason homer – tied for seventh-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th playoff RBI, the most among active players.

    It saw Correa celebrate his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

    Hernandez – the fourth player to have multiple four-plus hit games in the same postseason, after Albert Pujols (2011), Robin Yount (1982) and George Brett (1985), homered again for the Red Sox in the ninth but it was not enough to prevent the Astros from winning.

    Game 2 is back at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

     

    Dodgers at Braves

    World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers will open their National League Championship Series (NLCS) at the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

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    Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says Max Scherzer was his "ace in the hole" after using him in the ninth inning for his first career save in Thursday's 2-1 series-deciding win over the San Francisco Giants.

    Scherzer slammed the door on the Giants to clinch a 3-2 National League Division Series victory for the Dodgers after Cody Bellinger's RBI single for Justin Turner to score the go-ahead run in the ninth inning.

    The 37-year-old right-hander, who had started Game 3 for 10 strikeouts across seven innings, was handed the ball to save the game on this occasion after warming up in the bullpen. It was Scherzer's first career save in his 432nd appearance.

    "It was seeing the flow and how the game was going to play out, knowing we have an ace in the hole and trying to find the ultimate leverage spot to use him," Roberts told reporters after the game. "How the game played out, it made a lot of sense."

    Roberts had used five pitchers before Scherzer's introduction, starting Corey Knebel before Julio Urias took over in the third inning, tossing down five strikeouts across four innings.

    The game was tied at 1-1 leading into the ninth inning when Bellinger, who has had a season to forget, drove in Turner.

    Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP, hit at .165 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs during the regular season, but he has batted at .294 with three RBIs in the postseason.

    "Even for me, it's like going into that at-bat prior where he punched, he saw close to 10 punches, he grinded and competed, that last at-bat there was fight in there," Roberts said about Bellinger.

    "It wasn't about mechanics, it was about a fight. It was me versus you. Cody versus [Giants pitcher] Camilo Doval.

    "He got a huge hit. Like I said, Cody has grown a lot from adversity. For him to come up with the big hit, I'm very happy for him."

    The result means the Dodgers have reached the National League Championship Series, where they will face the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers are through to this stage for the fifth time in six seasons.

    LA had to overcome the Giants, who boasted the best majors regular season record at 107-55, but Roberts said they were not content with that.

    "I think what great ball clubs have the ability to do, is understand the gravity of a moment and a series in this case," he said. "Give everything you have to that series, which we did.

    "It was a huge series but we also understand our job is not done. Now our focus turns to the Braves."

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