Bautista falls short after first-round fireworks
Hits 10 to set bar in first round; falls to Cespedes after hitting four in semis
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Bautista entered this year's Gillette Home Run Derby hoping to benefit from what he learned while competing in this event on two previous occasions.
"Try to not get too excited and try not to hit it too far," Bautista said when asked Monday afternoon about the lessons he had learned. "Just try to make good solid contact and they should go."
Unfortunately, the Blue Jays outfielder did not account for how to deal with the long wait that seemed to affect him as he lost to A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in the semifinals on Monday night at Target Field.
Because he had the better opening round total, Bautista chose to allow Cespedes to bat first in the semifinal round. In hindsight, he regretted this decision to follow the Cuban slugger, who went on to defeat the Reds' Todd Frazier in the finals and claim his second consecutive Derby title.
"That just shows you that he loves the spotlight and he loves to come through when he is needed," Bautista said. "I thought I would put a little pressure on him by making him hit first, but apparently that was the wrong decision. If I had to do it again, I'd hit first."
After Cespedes opened the American League semifinal with seven home runs, Bautista came to the plate and immediately got himself into a rut. He recorded five of his seven outs before he hit the last of what would be four homers.
The disappointing semifinal results were much different than what Bautista produced when he hit a first-round-best 10 home runs. He drilled seven straight home runs during this stretch and seemed to be in a groove as he peppered the second-level seats with souvenirs.
His impressive opening round earned Bautista a second-round bye. But it also forced him to remain relatively idle for the next two hours as he awaited his semifinal matchup against Cespedes.
Bautista took his final first round swing at 8:30 p.m. CT and his first semifinal swing at 10:25 CT. Between that time, Cespedes competed in three rounds (including the semis) and a three-swing swingoff that he won to advance to the second round.
"I don't think [the wait affected me]," Bautista said. "I had plenty of time to get loose and work myself into going back out to the plate. I think I got a little overexcited and tried to overdo it the second time I came up to hit. I think that the reason I couldn't find a groove the second time."
This experience conjured memories of 2012, when Bautista hit 11 home runs in the first round and just two in the second round. His combined total enabled him to reach the final round, where he was beat by Prince Fielder.
Bautista entered this year's event with some extra confidence. Among all players who have gone deep at least five times at Target Field, Bautista ranks first with one home run every 5.36 at-bats. David Ortiz ranks second with a 6.33 ratio.
"[Minneapolis] is a great city," Bautista said. "I get to enjoy my time when I come here. It's a great place that I love to visit. But the success doesn't hurt. Solely based on that, I love playing here."
2014 Home Run Derby results
|AL||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Rd. 3||Final||Rd. 3||Rd. 2||Rd. 1||NL|
|Brian Dozier||2||1||6||2||Todd Frazier|
|Jose Bautista||10||Bye||4||Cespedes 9||2||4||Troy Tulowitzki|
|Adam Jones||4||3||Frazier 1||0||Yasiel Puig|
|Josh Donaldson||3||0||Bye||6||Giancarlo Stanton|
|Yoenis Cespedes||3||9||7||2||Justin Morneau|
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.