The Rays Tank: From Cuba to Citi


All Star Game festivities continued last night, with Yoenis Cespedes claiming the title of Home Run Derby champion.

Home Run Derby

Sometimes baseball is bigger than baseball, and Yoenis Cespedes' victory in the Home Run Derby last night was just that.

Cespedes journey to Citi Field has been anything but easy, as he shared with The San Francisco Chronicle, detailing his family's struggles over the past few years in coming to America from Cuba, with Cespedes success acting as the motivating factor in a truly remarkable story.

Last night the 27-year-old took the spotlight at the Derby, crushing 17 home runs in the first round; ranking third all time for the most home runs hit in a single round at the event - Bobby Abreu had 24 in 2005, and Josh Hamilton notched 28 in 2008.

Cespedes longest home run was a 456 foot blast to dead center; with the longest of the night going to Prince Fielder, on a 483-foot blast in the first round.

In his last at-bat Cespedes put an appropriate grand finale on the night, cranking a 455-foot home run to dead center. He immediately began celebrating, but his family was the first thing on his mind:

"I don't know if they can see this in Cuba, but the day before yesterday I spoke with my 4-year-old son who's in Cuba and he asked me to dedicate the home runs to him," Cespedes said in Spanish. "So I dedicate them to him and to the rest of my family.'

Bryce Harper took second place, and at 20 years and 272 days, was the second youngest player to participate in the Home Run Derby, only behind Ken Griffey, Jr. in 1990 at 20 years, 230 days old.

All Star Game

In not-entirely-surprising news, it was announced yesterday afternoon that Matt Harvey will start for the National League tonight on his home turf, while Max Scherzer will take the mound for the American League.

Speaking of Matt Harvey: if you haven't seen this video of Harvey asking New Yorkers in Mets gear about Matt Harvey, watch it now. It's gold.

Harvey has gone 7-2 this season with a 2.35 ERA, a National-League-leading 147 strikeouts, 27 unintentional walks and no unearned runs allowed; notching a quality start in 15 of 19 outings. Scherzer is 13-1 with a 3.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 4.90 K/BB ratio.

Both Harvey and Scherzer seemed like likely candidates to claim the honors with their performances this season, though Clayton Kershaw apparently felt snubbed from National League manager Bruce Bochy, telling reporters that, "It hurts." Kershaw currently has a league-leading 1.98 ERA and .908 WHIP.

Adam Wainwright was another option for the National League, while Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale were both worthy candidates for the American League.

Rays at the All Star Game

It's unbeknownst to Rays fans if or when Ben Zobrist will make an appearance tonight, but Marc Topkin shared the following concerning Jim Leyland's usage of Matt Moore:


- The season's most clutch hit thus far, as decided by Fangraphs? A "two-run, come-from-behind, walk-off" homer from Evan Longoria on May 11th against the Padres.

- Bryce Harper may be the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year, and he may have cranked some homers last night, but the time he's spent with a 13-year-old named Gavin Rupp may be the 20-year-old's most deserving acclaim yet.

- Scoring baseball games by hand, a dying breed?

- Chris Davis isn't phased by the steroid chatter surrounding the epic year of home-run-hitting he's had thus far.

- Lastly, the Rays top prospect Guerrieri was pulled from his start on Monday due to elbow soreness.

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