Alonso tips cap to Julio's 'buzzsaw' Derby showing

July 11th, 2023

SEATTLE -- After watching Julio Rodríguez crush one ball after another out of the park, knew he had his work cut out for him if he hoped to advance to the semifinals of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

“It’s like, ‘I’ve got to match it,” Alonso said, describing his mindset as he walked to the plate following J-Rod’s 41-homer eruption. “If I were to do that, for the crowd to see 41 homers and then 42 homers, the odds of that are ridiculous.”

Alonso -- a two-time Derby champ who won the event in 2019 in Cleveland and 2021 in Colorado, but lost to Rodríguez in the semifinals in 2022 -- did his best to make the Seattle fan favorite sweat, but the Mets slugger was only able to muster 21 homers, missing out on his chance to join Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. as the only three-time Derby winners.

“I thought I put on a good show; I just unfortunately ran into a buzzsaw,” Alonso said. “Julio was on fire that round. That’s special, not just for him but for the fans here in Seattle.”

Despite his first-round exit, Alonso said he enjoyed this year’s Derby as much as he has in the past. He must love it, as he became just the 10th player in history to participate in the Derby at least four times. He and Sammy Sosa are the only players to take part in four consecutive Derbies.

“I'm in it to win it,” Alonso said. “It’s super fun. It’s a really fun event that showcases some really incredible talent in the game of baseball.”

The 21 home runs on Monday lifted Alonso’s career Derby total to 215, extending his own record. Rodríguez might challenge that number before too long, adding 61 homers to the 81 he hit en route to the finals last year in Los Angeles, giving him a total of 142 in two tries. He reached the semifinals this time but was bested by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who went on to beat Randy Arozarena in the final round.

“I thought I had a pretty good showing, hit some balls far. 21 homers, not bad,” Alonso said. “Obviously not as good as the number he put up. That was stupid. There’s a reason why it's a historic number; I don't think you're going to see that number for a really long time. I mean, 41? My heavens. That was an incredible performance.”