This will be the Yoan Moncada Game, at least for now.
The White Sox’ prized prospect, who has shown signs of patience and plate discipline beyond his 22 years, is starting to put the barrel on the ball, too, and did he ever in dramatic fashion in the White Sox’ 3-2 victory to complete an improbable series sweep against the Houston Astros before 18,034 fans at Guaranteed Rate Field.
In the ninth, Moncada hit an opposite-field home run to left field against Ken Giles to force the game into extra innings. In the 11th, batting second again, the switch-hitting second baseman singled to right-center to score Leury Garcia from second with the game-winner.
“A star is born, yeah,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “That’s big. He ties it, and then he wins it.’’
Moncada’s average is a modest .213 since coming up from Class AAA Charlotte on July 19, but it has climbed steadily with a six-game hitting streak. He has reached safely in 17 of his last 29 plate appearances and owns an on-base percentage of .377.
The stat that means the most and surprised the most is one — the number of walk-off hits he has enjoyed in his life, he said. Not just with the Sox or in the minors, but in Cuba, as well.
“It was something indescribable,’’ Moncada said through an interpreter. “My feelings, all my emotions were through the roof when I hit that ball, and then when I was running the bases. It was something unique.’’
Moncada got the customary colored drink bath in the middle of the diamond, the center of a celebration for a team that has had few reasons to party on the field in a rebuilding year.
“Everything,’’ Moncada said. “Gatorade, ice, everything. They ripped my jersey, too.
“For us to sweep a team like the Astros, one of the best teams in the league, is something that enhances our confidence. It is something that makes us feel more comfortable about ourselves and our talent.’’
The Sox have the worst record in the American League and the Astros the best. And the Sox had lost 23 of their last 29.
Moncada’s heroics overshadowed somewhat the third strong start in a row for 24-year-old left-hander Carlos Rodon, who gave up two runs while matching his career high of eight innings.
Making his eighth start of the season, Rodon used an economical 98 pitches, striking out four but walking none while spacing out nine hits.
Jake Marisnick, the No. 9 batter in the Astros’ potent lineup, hit his 14th homer leading off the third inning, and Marwin Gonzalez collected his 67th RBI with a two-out double to the right-center field wall in the sixth to give the Astros a 2-0 lead. The Sox scored in the bottom of the sixth against right-hander Brad Peacock when Avisail Garcia doubled and scored on Yolmer Sanchez’s fielder’s choice ground out.
The Sox had runners on second and third with no outs in the eighth but didn’t score as right-hander Luke Gregerson struck out Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson and got Alen Hanson on a soft roller to first.
Nicky Delmonico (1-for-4, walk) became the first Sox to reach base in each of his first nine career games since Joe Gates in 1978-79.
A nice feat, to be sure. But this was Moncada’s night.
“I had a chance to watch Moncada in Triple-A [on minor league rehab assignments for a sore shoulder] and I tell you what, it was something special,’’ Rodon said. “That patience up there, you see a lot of 0-2 [counts] to 3-2 to walks there. He battles up there.
“He’s aggressive sometimes but he’ll wait it out and has good at-bats and strings them along, and makes the pitcher work.
“He’s got a good bat. Just a special player, man.’’
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