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Cespedes steals show from All-Stars, wins HR Derby

  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, watches his hit during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, watches his hit during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, hits his fourth home run during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, hits his fourth home run during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hits during the second round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

    American League's Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hits during the second round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hits a home run during the second round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

    American League's Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hits a home run during the second round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, left, of the Oakland Athletics, celebrates with Robinson Cano, second left, after winning the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    American League's Yoenis Cespedes, left, of the Oakland Athletics, celebrates with Robinson Cano, second left, after winning the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • National League's Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals hits during the final round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

    National League's Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals hits during the final round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, watches his hit during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

    American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, watches his hit during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, watches his hit during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, hits his fourth home run during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hits during the second round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hits a home run during the second round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, left, of the Oakland Athletics, celebrates with Robinson Cano, second left, after winning the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • National League's Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals hits during the final round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
  • American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, watches his hit during the first round of the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK – Yoenis Cespedes won baseball’s Home Run Derby last night, becoming the first player left out of the All-Star game to take home the crown.

The Oakland Athletics slugger beat Bryce Harper, 9-8, in the final round at reconfigured Citi Field, hitting the decisive drive with five swings to spare.

In only his second major league season, the outfielder from Cuba dropped his bat and raised his arm in triumph when he sent his 32nd homer of the night some 455 feet to deep center field, where it caromed off the back wall of the black batter’s eye. He was swarmed by the American League All-Stars near the third base line.

The final addition to the field, Cespedes was the fourth player not selected for the All-Star game to compete in the event.

Right off the bat, he proved he belonged and put on quite a show with family in the stands. Cespedes hit a whopping 17 home runs in the first round – more than any other player managed in their first two trips to the plate.

That sent him straight into the finals, though he added six long balls in round two for good measure. Some of his early drives were particularly impressive, too.

Cespedes hit about a half-dozen balls into the upper deck in left, never reached by anyone in a game, and banged another couple of shots off the restaurant windows in the corner just below.

The 20-year-old Harper, wearing shiny gold spikes as his father pitched to him, hammered eight homers in all three rounds. But the Washington Nationals phenom couldn’t keep up with Cespedes.

Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer and Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis, who leads the majors with 37 homers, were eliminated in the second round. Davis tied Reggie Jackson (1969) for the AL record before the All-Star break.

‘Video game numbers’

Miguel Cabrera has the kind of numbers that draw attention from fans.

It’s the same reaction from his peers, too.

“That’s just like, video game, and let’s just go out and have some fun and smile and laugh when we strike out,” Washington slugger Bryce Harper said yesterday during All-Star festivities. “It’s just, Miggy is going up there and ... going ‘Hey, if I don’t hit a homer, I shouldn’t be playing today.’ ”

Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBI last season, winning the AL Triple Crown. The third baseman is hitting .365 with 30 homers and 95 RBI at the All-Star break this year. That’s an impressive full season for almost any player. Let alone a first half.

Not that he’s all that impressed with any of it.

“There isn’t a lot of time to see that,” he said. “Maybe if I see it in the game, you know how they put it on the scoreboard? So I think that’s the only chance we got time to see it. Because you got to worry about other stuff, why are you going to worry about the stats?”

Harp on this

Harper had his name misstated in a pregame news conference – NL Manager Bruce Bochy called him “Bryan” before correcting himself immediately – and was slotted in the ninth spot in the NL order for tonight’s game.

Welcome to the All-Star game, kid.

The second-year Washington Nationals outfielder said he’s never batted ninth before in his life.

“That’s usually for the pitcher. I don’t think I’m pitching tomorrow,” Harper said. “You know, we’ve got a great lineup one through nine. It’s pretty tough to get in that lineup, so I’m just very excited and blessed to be able to start and I’m so thankful for it.”

Just a number

Jordan Zimmermann has the best record in the NL. He is not particularly impressed with himself.

“I’m not a big fan of the win-loss record,” the Washington starter said. “Some years the run support’s there, some years it’s not.”

The right-hander is 12-4 this season with a 2.58 ERA. That’s only slightly better than that of teammate Stephen Strasburg, who is 5-7 despite a 2.99 ERA.

“Look at Stephen, he’s got a losing record, and he’s got under a three ERA,” Zimmermann said. “I think ERA’s the big thing, and quality starts.”

For relaxing times

Adam Wainwright pitched on Sunday, so he’s unavailable for tonight’s All-Star game.

The St. Louis starter is set to make the most of his time off, anyway.

“It’s going to be amazing for me. I would love to pitch in the game, obviously, but also right now this break is perfect timing for me,” Wainwright said. “I brought my tennis shoes, my shagging glove, and if I had a hammock, you know, that’d be the thing that would put it over the top.”

Hey now

Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips was talking with reporters yesterday afternoon during the media session, sitting at a table with his name on a sign behind him.

While this was going on, San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo ran up to the table, carrying his own sign, a large piece of posterboard with his name on it in orange and blue.

“We’re All-Stars Brandon, we’re All-Stars!” Romo shouted, before running away with a huge smile on his face.

Stumped

Justin Masterson was ready when a TV crew from MLB UK handed him a cricket ball, then asked if he knew what to do with it.

“I mean, I could try,” the Cleveland pitcher said, pantomiming a respectable overhand delivery. “I don’t know if I could get over the top much. I’m not much of a bowler.

“I watched a little bit. You know, having been born in Jamaica, just living there a couple years, cricket’s the biggest thing there. I’ve tried to watch and understand a little bit, but it’s still a little bit beyond me.”

Later, Toronto’s Brett Cecil tried to grip the seams and pronounced them uncomfortable. He said he didn’t know much about the game, then remembered one of his teammates did: “Actually, Adam Lind is a big fan of it. I don’t know why.”

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