MLB In Full Bloom - Cespedes Repeats As HR Derby Champion - 7/15/2014

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Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes became the first repeat winner of the All-Star game home run derby in 15 years on Monday night in Minneapolis. Cespedes became the first player to win back-to-back trophies in the Derby since Ken Griffey Jr. did it in 1998 and 1999. But unlike last year, when Bryce Harper fell one short of Cespedes' mark in the final round, he cruised past Frazier 9-1 to earn his second title. Cespedes saved his best for last, a 452-foot blast to the third deck above left field that officially measured as the longest of the night. It wasn't all smooth sailing, though. In the first round, Cespedes needed a swing-off against teammate Josh Donaldson to advance to the next round. He then took care of Adam Jones as he got into the swing of things. On the National League side, Frazier took down Troy Tulowitzki after sliding past Tulo's teammate and fan favorite Justin Morneau in the first round.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Adam Wainwright has been named the National League starter for Tuesday night's All-Star Game. There was a strong argument to be made for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, but National League manager Mike Matheny will go with his own guy. Wainwright owns a sensational 1.83 ERA in 138 innings this season for the Cardinals. Kershaw has also thrown 40 more innings than Kershaw has to this point in the season and that was also a factor in Matheny's decision.
  • Felix Hernandez will start for the American League in Tuesday's All-Star Game at Target Field. American League skipper John Farrell made the announcement Monday with not as much anticipation as there was when National League manager Mike Matheny made his announcement for his starting pitcher. Hernandez earned his 11th victory of the season last Friday against the A's and owns a 2.12 ERA in 144 1/3 total innings this year.
  • Cliff Lee (elbow) surrendered eight runs, just three earned, on eight hits and a walk in just 4 2/3 innings in his final rehab start for High-A Clearwater on Monday. It was an ugly performance for the left-hander and certainly raises concerns moving forward. There's been no word on Lee's velocity or how he felt, but clearly these weren't the results the Phillies were looking for in Lee's final tune-up before rejoining the rotation on July 21.
  • Carlos Beltran (concussion) will likely be activated Friday. Beltran has not experienced any lingering symptoms, and felt fine after physical activity on Sunday. It is still likely he will continue to be the Yankees' DH upon return, but it's obviously an encouraging sign if he can come back immediately following the All-Star break.
  • Alfonso Soriano was officially released by the New York Yankees on Monday. Soriano was designated for assignment a week ago and, not surprisingly, cleared waivers. Soriano has returned to the Dominican Republic, but would be open to playing for another club for the remainder of the season. He was batting just .221 with six homers over 67 games for the Yanks before losing his roster spot. Soriano is relaxing at home collecting on his $18 million salary this season, which is mostly being paid by the Chicago Cubs.
  • According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Red Sox were prepared to offer Jon Lester  approximately $100 million over five years before Lester ceased negotiations. Lester is set to become a free agent after the season, and he will be paid handsomely by the Red Sox or someone else if he's allowed to reach the open market.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Andrew Velazquez set a new minor-league record by reaching base in his 72nd consecutive game on Sunday. The previous record was shared by Kevin Millar (1997) and Kevin Youkilis (2003). Mookie Betts also reached base in 71 straight games spanning 2013-14 when you include the postseason. During the 72-game streak, Velazquez hit .314 with 94 hits, 41 walks and two hit-by-pitches.

MLB In Full Bloom - MLB History Made in Grand Style - 7/14/2014

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Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher in 48 years to hit two grand slams in a season, and Buster Posey also hit a slam Sunday that boosted the San Francisco Giants over the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4. Never before Sunday afternoon had a starting pitcher-catcher tandem each hit a grand slam in the same game, but that's precisely the history Bumgarner and Posey made with their twin slams at AT&T Park. The last pitcher to launch two slams in a season was Tony Cloninger, who hit both in the same game for Atlanta on July 3, 1966, against the Giants at Candlestick Park. The Giants lost 22 of their last 32 games to close the first half, but enter the break on a high note and just one game behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Thanks to a torrid start to the season, they're among a pack of eight NL teams separated by just four games atop the league standings.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Brock Holt went 5-for-6 with a home run and two runs scored against the Astros on Sunday. Holt put an exclamation point on a breakout first half, hitting his third home run of the season to go with four singles. The 26-year-old has been tremendous for the Red Sox this season, batting .327 and serving as the team's primary leadoff hitter. Look for him to continue his strong season in the second half.
  • Todd Frazier finished the first half of the season the way he started it as he hit his 19th home run of the season. It was a two-run homer as the Reds defeated the Pirates 6-3 on Sunday. His 19 home runs are fourth-most in the National League at the break, and he's also among the league leaders in runs scored (57) and slugging percentage. Perhaps no player had a bigger breakout in the first half than Frazier who will take a .290 BA with 14 stolen bases and 53 RBI into the second half.
  • Sonny Gray allowed one unearned run over 7 2/3 innings in the Athletics' 4-1 victory over the Mariners on Sunday. Gray gave up six hits and struck out five. Gray has now won four straight to improve his record to 10-3. The right-hander is emerging as a front-of-the-rotation pitcher this season. He owns a 2.79 ERA in 19 starts and he should continue to pitch well in the season's second half.
  • Dan Uggla's future in Atlanta was in question Sunday after the Atlanta Braves suspended the struggling second baseman for their final game before the All-Star break. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez would only say it's an internal matter, however it was reported that he arrived at the ballpark to close to the start of a game on Saturday. Uggla is making $13 million this season and another $13 million next year in the final season of his deal. It would not be surprising for the Braves to cut the struggling second baseman right now even though Uggla has another year remaining on his contract. He has not been productive and has only two starts in the last 40 game.
  • All eyes will be on the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby tonight as the event will kick off the All-Star Week extravaganza back to the Twin Cities where it first began 29 years ago. The American League team is led by Jose Bautista (captain), Josh Donaldson, Brian Dozier, Adam Jones, and Yoenis Cespedes. The National League team is led by Troy Tulowitzki (captain), Todd Frazier, Yasiel Puig, Justin Morneau, and Giancarlo Stanton. Cespedes is the defending champion of the derby and he will be tested tonight. The favorite to win is Stanton who should be on a show! MLB is offering fans the chance to predict the winners of the derby and if you complete the perfect bracket, you can win $25,000! The odds to predicting the perfect bracket is slightly less than 500,000 to 1.
  • Carlos Gomez did not enjoy striking out against Adam Wainwright during Saturday's game. In frustration, Gomez tried to break his bat over his knee multiple times, but couldn't accomplish his goal and he eventually just smashing it on the ground.
  • Babe Ruth's contract with the Boston Red Sox in 1918 was for only $5,000, but at an auction Saturday night, the document itself sold for $1.02 million. The contract was signed by Ruth, American League president Ban Johnson and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, who famously agreed to sell Ruth to the New York Yankees in December 1919. The contract is in perfect condition and it sold the highest price ever paid for a sports contract, surpassing the record previously held by the document that sent Ruth to the Yankees, which sold for $996,000 in 2005.

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