- Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers MLB for ESPN.com.
DENVER — A Home Run Derby first-round showdown ended with Washington Nationals star Juan Soto outlasting Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani through two tiebreakers Monday night.
Soto and Ohtani were tied with 22 home runs each after the first round, then hit six more apiece in the first tiebreaker, which lasted a minute. Per Home Run Derby rules, the two players were given three more swings apiece in a sudden-death showdown. Soto hit home runs on all three of his swings, while Ohtani hit a line drive to right field on his first swing, ending the contest.
The final tally was 31 home runs to 28.
“In the last 30 seconds of both the first round and the tiebreaker, I was really exhausted,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who also served as his catcher.
Both players hit balls over 500 feet, with Soto topping out at 520 feet and Ohtani at 513 feet. Soto had a consistent round, while Ohtani started slow but had a huge finish to force the tiebreakers.
At several points throughout the matchup, the crowd began chanting Ohtani’s name, urging him on. That — as well as an impromptu phone call from teammate Mike Trout — might have boosted his finish in regulation, but the American League’s leadoff hitter and starting pitcher for Tuesday’s All-Star Game came up short in the end.
He’ll prepare for Tuesday’s showcase event by “getting as much sleep as I can.”
New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso edged Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini in the final round to become the third back-to-back Home Run Derby champion.
ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.
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