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I won’t say that David Ortiz chose his American League teammates for Monday’s 2011 State Farm Home Run Derby at Chase Stadium in Phoenix better than Milwaukee Brewer Prince Fielder chose his from the National League. But if players were possible Holy Grails, Fielder would have long since turned to dust, whereas Ortiz would be chilling with Sean Connery.
Gonzalez opened the final round with 11 home runs: no small feat considering his pitcher, Indians manager Manny Acta, was chosen essentially at random minutes before the first round.
Acta did not throw the ball with quite the consistency that Gonzalez might have wanted, pitching all over the plate instead of to the same spot. If Acta’s pitch drifted away, however, Gonzalez wasn’t above hitting a center-field or opposite-field home run.
Still, that slight inconsistency was all that Cano needed, and he was in perfect rhythm with his pitcher – and father – Jose Cano. The younger Cano needed just 18 swings to win the Derby and set a final-round record with 12 home runs. Fittingly, he also beat Gonzalez for most overall home runs, 32-31.
Of the NL hitters, only Fielder made it to the second round, hitting five first-round homers to tie Ortiz and St. Louis Cardinal Matt Holliday for third and force a swing-off for the final two spots in the second round. Holliday lost and was eliminated, and Fielder finished tied with defending-champion Ortiz with nine home runs after two rounds. Both were elimated when Cano’s and Gonzalez’s double-digit second rounds brought each’s total to 20. Fielder did hit the longest home run of the night, a 474-foot bomb to right field in the second round.
The AL outscored the NL 26-15 in the first round alone. Los Angeles Dodger Matt Kemp hit just two home runs to finish last, and Milwaukee Brewer Rickie Weeks – whose selection over hometown Arizona Diamondback Justin Upton led to both Weeks and Fielder getting booed during their at-bats – fared little better, hitting just three.
Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 31 home runs, hit four home runs in his first Home Run Derby appearance, finishing sixth.
State Farm Insurance donated $603,000 to charities as a result of the Derby, and they and Major League Baseball combined to donate $18,000 per home run hit with the golden baseballs – made partly of actual gold – used with nine outs.