Howard, who has 28 home runs in the first half of the season, was the last player to hit in the first round and needed eight home runs to advance. He did so with a spectacular finish.He had two home runs through his first eight outs, then hit two out to right field before making his ninth out with a fly to center. That left Howard no margin for error, and he smashed four straight balls out of the park, including one measured at 471 feet that splashed into the Allegheny River beyond right-center field. That pushed Howard into the second round, but he was still in fourth place. He also batted last in the second round and when he came to the plate, Wright had 18, Miguel Cabrera had 15 and David Ortiz had 13. Howard came through again with a spectacular finish, this time going deep four times in five tries after he had made eight outs. Again, one of those landed in the river on the fly, measured at 461 feet. He finished the second round with 18 home runs. "I was just trying to put good wood on it," Howard said. "I wasn't trying to hit them in the water, they just wanted to go into the water. I didn't have a problem with that." Howard needed just five of his 10 outs in the final to surge past Wright. Again, he had a big finish, blasting a home run on each of his last three swings. He didn't even bother looking at the last one as it soared beyond the right-center field fence. Afterward, Howard got a big hug from his son, Darian. "He's going to sleep good tonight," Howard said. "I'm going to sleep good, too."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.