Home Run Derby shakes things up with format change

Astros Yordan Alvarez
A new format for the Home Run Derby was announced. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Home Run Derby is altering its format.

This year’s event, which takes place on July 15 at Arlington, Texas, limits the number of pitches each hitter can face in each round and changes the setup of its opening round.

In the first round and the semifinals, each hitter will get either three minutes or 40 pitches, depending on which of those benchmarks gets reached first. In the final round, a hitter will get two minutes or 27 pitches. That doesn’t include the bonus periods that hitters will get in each round.

Under the previous format, hitters still faced a time limit but there wasn’t any restriction on the number of pitches they could face.

Each hitter will get bonus pitches until they hit into three outs during that period. He gets a fourth out if he hits a homer that goes at least 425 feet in the bonus period. Under the old format, each hitter got an extra 30 seconds of bonus time and could receive another 30 seconds of bonus time if he hit two homers of at least 440 feet during the regulation period.

All eight hitters will be competing against one another in the opening round, with the top four advancing to the semifinals. The semifinalists will be seeded depending on how many homers they hit in the first round.

Under the previous format, the eight hitters essentially competed in a tournament, with one-on-one quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matchups. They were seeded according to their season home-run totals.

Although Major League Baseball hasn’t yet announced all the players competing in this year’s Home Run Derby, Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson said Sunday night on social media that he would be participating. Last year’s Home Run Derby was won by Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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Astros beat the Mariners 4-2. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a go-ahead two-run homer off former Houston reliever Ryne Stanek in the seventh inning, and the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Saturday night to take sole possession of the AL West lead for the first time this year.

Stuck playing catchup through the first 3½ months of the season, Houston has won six of eight to climb into first place all alone.

Seattle lost its fifth straight and fell out of first place for the first time since May 11.

Meyers drove a 1-2 pitch from Stanek (6-3) to right-center field for his 11th homer. Stanek opened the inning by walking Jeremy Peña, and the homer by Meyers cost George Kirby the chance at a victory after he allowed one run in six innings.

Yainer Diaz added a solo homer in the eighth off reliever Trent Thornton that bounced off the top of the wall.

Julio Rodríguez snapped Seattle’s 14-inning scoreless drought when his two-run homer off Framber Valdez gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead in the sixth. It was his 11th of the season and Rodríguez nearly hit a second longball in the eighth off Ryan Pressly only to watch Trey Cabbage make a leaping catch at the wall in right field.

It was one of two terrific defensive plays by the Astros in the eighth as Joey Loperfido ended the inning with a diving grab of Mitch Garver’s drive into the left-field corner and saved one run from scoring.

Valdez pitched 5 2/3 innings. He allowed three hits, four walks and struck out six. Tayler Scott (7-3) got the final out of the sixth before Bryan Abreu, Pressly and Josh Hader closed out the final three innings. Hader earned his 20th save.

Kirby allowed four hits and struck out six. Houston’s only run off him came on Peña’s infield single that scored Alex Bregman in the fourth.


Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez struck out to end the first inning when he was called for a pitch-clock violation for not being ready in the box prior to a 3-2 delivery from Kirby.


Astros: RHPs Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) and Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) threw bullpens. Verlander threw about 40 pitches with increased intensity, while Garcia threw 15 pitches. Both are expected to throw again sometime early next week. … C Victor Caratini (hip) was expected to catch for a second straight day at Double-A Corpus Christi.


Astros: RHP Ronel Blanco (9-4, 2.56 ERA) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts, but lost to Texas in his last outing before the All-Star break.

Mariners: RHP Bryan Woo (3-1, 2.45) will make just his second start since June 24. Woo allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings on July 12.

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