The Phillies may not win championships, but they’re the best in the world at the Home Run Derby, as Ryan Howard gave the Phillies their second derby crown in as many years tonight at PNC Park.
Howard defeated David Wright in the final round 5-4 for a total of 23 homers, measuring over two miles in total distance. The longest was a 471-foot shot into the river.
Howard received pitches from Phillies bullpen coach Ramon Henderson, who pitched to Bobby Abreu last year when the outfielder set a derby record with 41 home runs. Henderson also pitched to main attraction David Ortiz.
Howard downplayed the hype before the derby because he doesn't hit many homers in batting practice. It took him about five outs in the first round to get into rhythm, eventually catching up with eight long balls to advance to the next round. Howard powered out 10 balls in the second round to tie Wright for the lead.
As the other competitors – Wright, Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera -- started falling off, Howard opened up and kept adding deep shots to right and right-center, ending the night as the most evenly-paced hitter through every round. Besides Big Papi, Howard also proved to be the strongest. His blasts consistently found water or the roof of the ESPN booth in dead center.
Afterwards, Howard said he was glad to give the Phillies something to cheer about.
His last homer was extra special. He hit a ball off a MasterCard sign that guaranteed some lucky winner 500 free airline flights.