David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, who hit 13 in the opening two rounds, was also eliminated in the second round.Ortiz, who had a distinct advantage this year as a left-handed hitter aiming at the short porch in right field, hit 17 in the first round at Detroit and 10 in the first round here. But like last year, Ortiz hit only three homers in the second round and was eliminated from contention in both events. "Well, yeah, I'm happy," Ortiz said. "It's not all about winning, it's about the fans who get involved in this and they try to have fun so we try to put on a good show. This is fun to do. A lot of players walk away from doing it, but the guys that decided to do it know it's good for the game. Like I said, it's all about having fun." For the first time this year, a rule change allowed each player to carry his total from the first round to the second. In the past, no matter how many homers a participant hit in the first round, he would have to start all over again in the second round. For example, Abreu hit only six homers in the second round last year, but survived to go into the finals. Ivan Rodriguez won that round with eight, but was bested in the final round by Abreu, 11-5. This year, the two-round total got both players to the finals where the slate was wiped clean. Howard said he liked the new format. "I liked it because I think it allows you to kind of format a strategy, if you will," he said. "And it also allows you to have one good round and one bad round and not necessarily be punished for that bad round." Howard had three terrific, if not spectacular rounds on Monday night. And that, in the end, made all the difference.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Rich Draper contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less