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Stanton puts on first round show, then a goose egg after long layoff at home run derby

MINNEAPOLIS -- The rest of the country found out what the Marlins have known for years now -- watching Giancarlo Stanton take batting practice can be breathtaking.

On the eve of the 85th All-Star Game, the Marlins' 6-6, 250-pound muscle-bound right fielder put on an epic display of power at the Home Run Derby -- the kind few rarely see because of his team's relative obscurity.

He hit a line drive shot off the batter's eye in center field an estimated 430 feet and bashed two bombs into the third deck. One of them nearly flew out of the park at Target Field and ESPN estimated it at 510 feet.

The only thing Stanton didn't do? Win.

After smacking six homers in the first round to earn a bye into the semifinals, Stanton's power ran dry. Really, though, he got cold.

Stanton didn’t swing for more than an hour as the rest of the field fought to stay in contention, and he eventually lost to the Reds' Todd Frazier 1-0 in stunning fashion in the National League final. Frazier went on to lose to defending champion Yoenis Cespedes of Oakland 9-1 in the final.

“It made a bigger difference than I thought it would,” Stanton said of the layoff. “I kind of have to find something to do in that time, stay warm. It's definitely a speed bump I couldn't get over in this one. But it was still fun.”

The Cuban-born Cespedes stayed warm throughout. He had to win a swing-off with A’s teammate Josh Donaldson to advance past the first round and slugged 28 homers total on the night en route to capturing back-to-back home run derby crowns.

Afterward, Cespedes said the new derby format definitely affected Stanton and Toronto’s Jose Bautista, who earned the American League’s bye with 10 homers in the first round. Bautista waited an hour and 55 minutes before he batted in the competition again. He only hit four homers in his semifinal loss to Cespedes.

“You usually don't do that for anything [during the regular season],” Stanton said of the long break. “I can't believe I goose-egged the second round.”

For Stanton, 24, it was a disappointing end to what started out as his big show.

His mammoth blasts drew the biggest reactions from the crowd of 40,558 in attendance. All-Stars on both sides were in disbelief when Stanton’s third-deck shot nearly left the park. He averaged 412 feet on his homers 

“That was the gold ball, the charity ball too,” Stanton said. “So you don't know how they're going to fly. It's tough to pick them up.”

Former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates came out to hug Stanton after his longest shot of the night. Stanton played up to the crowd, too, waving his arms up and down to try and get them louder.

“It was cool,” Stanton said of his moment. “It's what they're here for. It's what it's about.”

The start of the derby was delayed nearly an hour by rain in the area. Stanton was the fourth National League hitter to bat.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond served up the meatballs to Stanton. The two embraced on the field shortly after Stanton's stellar first round.

Despite the disappointing loss, Stanton said he isn’t ruling out a return to the derby next year.

“For sure,” Stanton said when asked if he would want to come back. “I’ve got to bring it back to the NL.”

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