Monday, July 10, 2006

Ryan Howard: Home Run Derby Champ [J. Mark English]

PITTSBURGH - Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has been a major leaguer for barely more than one year. On Monday he won his first All-Star Home Run Derby title.
Howard beat Mets third baseman David Wright with 5 home runs in the final round of the derby. The two both his 18 home runs in the first two rounds combined to set up the showdown. Howard became the second Phillies player in two years to win the Derby. Bobby Abreu won it with 41 home runs last year, a record.
Howard nearly didn't make it out of the first round. The last batter to hit, Howard had four home runs with nine outs before hitting four consecutive homers to surpass Jermaine Dye of the White Sox for the fourth and final shot in the second round. In the second round, he hit his final four with eight outs to surpass Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins.
Wright, with teammate Paul Lo Duca on the mound, thrilled fans in the first round. A righty, Wright pounded shot after shot deep into the upper deck in left field. His 16 homers was the third most ever in the first round of a derby, behind Bobby Abreu and Ortiz in 2005, with 24 and 17 respectively.
Wright tired in round two. After two home runs on his first two swings, he made ten straight outs. He hit four home runs in the final round.