Late Derby start catches up with Holliday

Late Derby start catches up with Holliday

ANAHEIM -- Matt Holliday started slow, came on strong and ended up disappointed.

Holliday hit five home runs in the first round of the 2010 State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday, leaving him two long balls short of advancing to the second round. Holliday did crank the longest shot of the Derby, a 497-foot blast down the left-field line. But when Miguel Cabrera hit seven dingers to close out the opening round, Holliday was eliminated.

Holliday's brother, Josh, an assistant baseball coach at Vanderbilt University, threw to the Cardinals outfielder. It was Holliday's second time participating in the Derby. In 2007, he advanced to the second round, also with five homers in the first round, but was eliminated without reaching the semifinals.

For a good while, it didn't appear Holliday would have any chance at all of advancing. At the point that he had nine outs, he was still stuck on one home run. He went on a tear once his round went to the "gold ball," however, hitting homers on four straight pitches before coming up short on his last swing. Ever the competitor, Holliday was clearly annoyed by his last out, despite going in with a mild-mannered approach.

"I'm just trying to have fun with it, not take it too seriously," Holliday said on Monday afternoon. "Try to hit some good ones. I try to hit the ball somewhat to the middle of the field. I don't want to get too pull-happy. Just try to drive the ball like I do every day in batting practice."

That may be where he fell short. He went heavily to left field, hitting only two balls (both outs) to center or right.

Still, Holliday raised a healthy $71,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs. For each regular home run, Derby sponsor State Farm donates $3,000, and for each gold-ball homer, it's $17,000.

When Holliday stepped up to the plate, Milwaukee's Corey Hart had hit 13 homers but none of the other three participants had hit more than four. So when he tallied five, he stood in second place with three players remaining. He needed just one of the remaining three to fall short of his total in order to advance, since the top four hitters move on to the second round. However, all three topped him, capped by Cabrera's round, and Holliday was knocked out.

For a moment, though, it looked like Holliday might make a run.

"All these guys are capable of getting on a streak," Hart said. "So I think any time you find a rhythm like that, you're capable of putting up a lot of numbers. So you get worried, but I was able to hang in there."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.