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    Home Run Derby: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. edges Randy Arozarena; Dodgers’ Mookie Betts struggles
    • July 11, 2023

    By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer

    SEATTLE — Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. joined Vladimir Sr. to become the first father-son duo to win the All-Star Home Run Derby, beating Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena 25-23 in the final round on Monday night.

    Guerrero defeated Julio Rodríguez 21-20 in the semifinals after the Mariners star hit a record 41 in the first round in front of his hometown fans.

    Batting against Blue Jays manager John Schneider, Guerrero was the last semifinalist to swing and the first finalist, setting a final-round record for homers to top the mark the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso set when he beat Guerrero 23-22 in 2019.

    Vladimir Guerrero Sr. won the 2007 derby in San Francisco while with the Angels, beating the Blue Jays’ Alex Rios 3-2 in the final.

    With Guerrero Jr. catching his breath while watching, Arozarena hit against Tampa Bay field coordinator Tomas Francisco. Arozarena started his final 30-second segment with 21 homers and had 23 with seven seconds left before hitting a line drive and a pop-up on his final swings.

    “(Vladimir) obviously, the power that he has was incredible,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “For me, I felt good going into that round. But also he was able to get a minute of bonus time. I only had the 30 seconds of bonus time. He did a great job.”

    On a night when Rodriguez had the home crowd on its feet during his electric opening round and Dodgers star Mookie Betts proved his prediction that he had no chance, Arozarena had the most overall homers over the three rounds, 82 to Guerrero’s 72. Arozarena overcame Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox 35-22 in the semifinals. Robert hit the longest drive of the night, a 484-foot shot to left in the second round. That topped the high of 476 feet by Barry Bonds in the 2001 derby in Seattle.

    Trying to become the youngest Derby winner at age 22, Rodríguez knocked out Alonso, a two-time champion who hit 21. Rodríguez beat Texas’ Corey Seager 32-24 in the first round last year at Dodger Stadium, then knocked out Alonso 31-23 before losing to then-Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto 19-18 in the final.

    Arozarena beat Texas’ Adolis García 24-17 in the opening pairing before a crowd of 46,952 at T-Mobile Park. García is the godfather to Arozarena’s daughter, and the two jumped into each other’s arms during warmups.

    Robert knocked out Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman 28-27 in the opening round. Rutschman hit 21 left-handed, and the switch hitter then turned around to the right side and hit six more right-handed during a 30-second bonus round. From Portland, Oregon, Rutschman grew up attending Mariners games.

    Betts spent most of the past two weeks downplaying his chances in the event, and he was prophetic.

    Betts, whose 26 home runs this season is tied for the third-most in the majors at the All-Star break, had cautioned that he has never been much of a home run hitter in batting practice-style settings.

    Guerrero hit 26 home runs to begin their first-round matchup, batting before Betts. The 5-foot-9 Betts hit 11 in the initial three minutes of his round, then none during the 30-second bonus to end his night.

    “You’ve gotta pull the ball, you gotta hit in the air to the left. Do not go to center,” Dodgers teammate J.D. Martinez told Betts during his round.

    “I don’t know how!” Betts responded.

    Betts’ total was the lowest of the eight participants.

    Guerrero was participating for the first time in four years. Four years ago at Cleveland, he hit 29 in the first round and 40 in the second, then lost to Alonso in the final.

    Alonso was trying for his third title in four years. Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. is the only three-time winner, taking the title in 1994, ’98 and ’99.

    Only three players have won the title at home: the Chicago Cubs’ Ryne Sandberg in 1990, Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier in 2015 and Washington’s Bryce Harper in 2018.

    The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts hits during the first round of the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

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    ​ Orange County Register