MIAMI -- A few hours before stepping into the batter's box at Marlins Park, Charlie Blackmon sat alongside baseball's most prolific sluggers and declared, "Home runs aren't my thing." A good round of batting practice for Blackmon might include 10 line drives to left field, not 10 homers."I'm going to
MIAMI -- A few hours before stepping into the batter's box at Marlins Park, Charlie Blackmon sat alongside baseball's most prolific sluggers and declared, "Home runs aren't my thing." A good round of batting practice for Blackmon might include 10 line drives to left field, not 10 homers.
"I'm going to have to do something a little different," Blackmon said.
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On Monday night, "different" meant 14 home runs in the first round of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. It was an impressive showing, but not enough for Blackmon to get past Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, who tied and beat Blackmon in bonus time with his 15th homer landing as time expired.
"If you'd asked me going into it, I would have guessed two or three or four, something like that," Blackmon said afterward. "I'm happy with it. I'm glad nobody got hurt and everybody had a good time."
According to Statcast™, Blackmon's 14 homers averaged 413 feet with an exit velocity of 103.6 mph. His longest blast was his last, a 434-foot shot into the second deck in right-center field. Unlike Bellinger, Blackmon did not earn the 30-second bonus time, which is awarded when a player hits two home runs of at least 440 feet. That ended up being the difference.
With Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes pitching, Blackmon hit first and peppered the second deck with eight of his 14 homers. He called a timeout with 10 homers and 1:09 remaining in the four-minute first round then launched four more long balls.
"Way more fun than I thought it would be. Way more exhausting than I thought it would be also," Blackmon said with a grin. "I had a great time. Never competed in a Home Run Derby, did not know what to expect. I had more fun than I thought I would have -- and a little bit glad I saved my body from having to deal with the second round.
"I was gassed after that first one. Two minutes in, I'm looking at the clock like, 'Why are you crawling?' It just seemed like the longest four minutes."
His lead seemed secure for a time, but Bellinger -- who had 25 homers to Blackmon's 20 in the first half -- finished strong. Bellinger had only six homers with 1:50 left but hit seven more. Had the round ended in regulation, Blackmon would have won, 14-13, but Bellinger's 13th homer was his second of 440-plus feet, earning him the extra time. He used that time to sneak past Blackmon and advance to Round 2, where he was eliminated by eventual Derby champion and fellow rookie Aaron Judge of the Yankees.
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Blackmon was among the first to congratulate Bellinger for advancing, hugging the 21-year-old Bellinger and his father/pitcher, former big leaguer Clay.
"That was great," Blackmon said. "Really cool for him and Clay, his father, to experience that with him."
Blackmon stuck around on the field and watched the rest of the Derby alongside Holmes and fellow Rockies All-Stars DJ LeMahieu, Greg Holland and Nolan Arenado. It was his first time seeing Judge, who beat Miguel Sano in the finals, in person.
"He's so quiet and simple that he looks like a contact hitter trapped in an ogre's body. For that reason, I'm not surprised he's leading the league in homers," Blackmon said. "There's not a lot of moving parts. He's going to be able to barrel balls consistently. With that much power, those balls are going out.
"I don't know that the game has ever seen a power like that. Stanton has the most velocity, but I think Judge is going to be a really interesting career to follow."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.