This year baseballs are flying out of the park at a rate that is even greater than the steroid era, as the balls may be juiced now instead of the players.
With a record-setting home run total racking up in the regular season, it is only fitting that we got the same in this year’s Home Run Derby.
The result was one of the most exciting Home Run Derby’s that we have ever seen, with a record 311 long balls being hit by the eight-man field.
New York Mets rookie, Pete Alonso was crowned the Home Run Derby champion after beating out Vlad Guerrero Jr. in the final round with 23 home runs.
Alonso had a flair for the dramatic all night long, making late surges to win each round. In the first round, Alonso hit a buzzer-beater home run as time expired to advance.
Then in the second round, Alonso once again hit a walk-off home run as time expired to advance.
Alonso faced his toughest competition in the final round, as Vlad Guerrero Jr. was the biggest star of the night.
Guerrero set the record for most home runs hit in a round with 29 in the first round.
Guerrero then put on an even better show in the next round, as he went toe-to-toe with Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson.
After once again piling on 29 homers, Pederson surprisingly matched that total, leading to a series of tie-breakers.
In the end, Guerrero beat out Pederson, but only after the duo combined to hit 79 home runs in the round.
All told, Guerrero hit an MLB-record 91 home runs in the derby, in a fantastic display of his raw power.
All of those home runs in the early rounds may have come back to haunt Guerrero, as he looked gassed in final round, yet still hit 22 home runs.
Alonso definitely had the upper-hand in the final, beating Guerrero with 19 seconds to spare. Alonso also still had his full 30-second bonus time for hitting two home runs over 440 feet, an advantage that he did not need in any of the three rounds.
This is likely just the first bit of hardware that Alonso will be taking home this year, as he is the run-away favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year.
Nationals Sweep Cardinals to Advance to First World Series in Franchise History
On May 23rd, the Washington Nationals were 12 games under .500 and people began speculating if they would be sellers at the trade deadline.
Nearly five months later, the Nationals are heading to the World Series.
Washington has been thriving in the underdog role all season, making them the perfect team to shock everyone in October.
The Nationals were nearly eliminated in the Wild Card Game against the Milwaukee Brewers, then rallied in the eighth inning to win and survive.
They then went on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and fell behind in the series 2-1. Washington bounced back though, winning the last two games to move on to the NLCS.
In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, everything came together for the Nationals.
Their starting pitchers flirted with no-hitters in each of the first two games and Washington ended up winning the series by a combined score of 20-6.
In the series-clinching game on Tuesday, Washington jumped out to a seven-run lead in the first inning.
The first inning ambush was really reminiscent of how the Cardinals advanced to the NLCS themselves, when they piled on 10 runs in the first inning of Game 5 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves.
Six days after beating the Braves, the Cardinals season is over.
For the Nationals, this a remarkable story for their franchise player Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman has literally been with the franchise since it’s inception and now get’s rewarded for all of his sacrifices over the years.
Along with Zimmerman, the Nationals have been propelled by another veteran infielder. Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick hit the game-winning grand slam in the Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, before turning in another great series in the NLCS.
The 36-year-old hit .417/.462/.750, with four double and four RBIs. He was named the NLCS MVP and will now try to win the first World Series of his 14-year career.
Now the Washington Nationals get sit back and wait for the World Series to begin, as the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees are locked in a grudge match of an ALCS.
Gerrit Cole Shuts Down the Yankees to Put the Astros Ahead in the ALCS
What a difference 48 hours makes.
The New York Yankees were feeling great about themselves on Saturday night, after crushing the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the ALCS by a score of 7-0.
Then in Game 2, the Yankees forced extra-innings and almost stole both road games before returning home to New York to play Games 3, 4 and 5.
But in the 11th inning late Sunday night, Carlos Correa hit a walk-off home run to even the series at one game apiece.
On Tuesday night, the Yankees had to face Astros ace Gerrit Cole and they simply stood no chance.
Cole was dominant once again for the Astros, lowering his postseason ERA to a minuscule 0.40 after shutting out the Yankees through seven innings.
The flame-throwing righty did make things more difficult for himself, walking five batters, but seemed to always get the big strikeout when he needed it.
The Yankees really only had one chance to win that game and they missed it by inches. In the fifth inning, with two runners on base, Didi Gregorious nearly hit a home run that would have changed the game.
Ultimately the Yankees would only score once Cole left the ballgame, when Gleyber Torres hit a home run in the eighth inning.
The Astros already had four runs at that point and they would cruise to the 4-1 victory, taking the first game in the Bronx.
As this series moves to a Game 4, there could be a huge advantage heading Houston’s way, coming from the weather. That is because there is expected to be rain in the forecast that would push the series back a day.
Houston has been operating with a three-man rotation in October and plans to continue to do so. If the game gets rained out, the Astros get an extra days rest to set up their starting rotation.
Regardless of the weather, if the final outcome of this series ends up being Gerrit Cole on the mound to pitch a Game 7, you have to like the Astros chances to advance to the World Series.
Carlos Correa Hits Walk-Off Homer in the 11th Inning to Tie ALCS at a Game Apiece
Back in 2017, the Houston Astros played the New York Yankees in the ALCS and dropped the first game of the series at home.
Justin Verlander started Game 2 and threw a complete game, carrying a tie to the bottom of the ninth inning for the Astros. Jose Altuve singled to lead off that frame and then Carlos Correa hit a walk-off double to tie the series.
Now two years later, in a game that Verlander happened to start as well, Correa once again came up to the plate with a chance to win a game for his team.
This time, the shortstop delivered the second postseason walk-off hit of his career in grand fashion, drilling an opposite field home run in the 11th inning.
That home run was just the finishing touch to an amazing game by Correa.
In the second inning, Correa drove in the first run of the game with an RBI double that brought Alex Bregman home.
Verlander was excellent for the Astros, pitching against a very tough Yankees lineup. He threw 6 2/3 innings, yielding just five hits and two runs, with seven strikeouts.
The runs he allowed came on a two-run homer off the bat of Aaron Judge in the fourth inning.
While the Yankees took a 2-1 lead on Judge’s home run, George Springer hit a home run of his own in the fifth inning to tie the game.
Another turning point came in the sixth inning, when the Yankees were rallying against Verlander.
With two runners on, Brett Gardner ripped a base hit that ricocheted off of Jose Altuve, falling in no-man’s land up the middle.
The Yankees sent D.J. LeMahieu around to try to score on the play, but Correa once again came through in the clutch, making a heads-up play and gunning down the runner at the plate.
The game would remain tied until the 11th inning, with the Astros bullpen using five pitchers to get 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Then came Correa’s walk-off in the bottom of the 11th and the series is now all tied up as it heads to New York City for Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Hopefully we are in for a long series, as this really might be a matchup of the two best teams in baseball.
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