For Yoan Moncada, every game presents an opportunity to snap out of a slump and begin fulfilling his immense potential. Each start for Carlos Rodon is another chance to move farther from last year’s shoulder surgery and closer to developing into the pitcher the White Sox want and maybe need him to become.
Sunday was a very good day for those pieces of the franchise’s future.
Moncada had a three-run home run and go-ahead three-run double and Rodon went eight strong innings to lead the Sox to a 10-3 victory over the Athletics that salvaged a split of the four-game series.
Moncada has been up and down all season but Sunday was a highlight. He entered the day hitting .194 over his last 10 games while his defense at second base had been spotty. On Sunday, Moncada’s three-run, two-out double against Paul Blackburn gave the Sox a 3-2 lead and keyed a five-run fifth, before his three-run homer in the sixth gave him a career-best six RBI.
Moncada wants it to become a turning point for his season, but knows that won’t happen automatically. He admitted some doubts have entered his brain during his struggles.
“Every time you are passing through a rough moment, you have doubts. You have questions. But when you keep working hard, you can answer those questions. For me, that was it,” Moncada said through a translator. “I had a few moments with doubts and questions why things weren’t going my way. But I keep trying. I’m just working hard and hopefully the good results are keeping for a long time.”
Despite his immense talent, Moncada has much to work on. Manager Rick Renteria said he has talked to him about intensity and focus, both of which need to be there every pitch.
“Moncy is probably getting a little bit of a wake-up call to himself in terms of where he sees himself. He’s also learning that truly you have to take every single pitch of the game into consideration, because they all matter,” Renteria said. “His skill set hasn’t disappeared. It’s still there. Obviously a high skill set. But he’s starting to realize mentally that ‘maybe I have to have a little bit more focus and intensity.’ ”
Rodon’s challenge is different. He’s trying to get up to speed in the middle of the season and work past the September shoulder surgery that cost him the first two months.
“Feel pretty good,” Rodon said. “I mean, I’m here. I’ve got to say I’m healthy every day, and I am.”
In his fourth start, Rodon allowed two runs and seven hits while striking out three and throwing 99 pitches. Rodon surrendered a sacrifice fly in the second and Mark Canha’s fifth-inning drive that gave the Athletics a homer in their MLB-record 25th consecutive road game, but the lefty took another step forward in his abbreviated season and won for the first time since Aug. 21.
A key moment came in the fifth when the Athletics then got runners to second and third with no outs after the homer. Rodon avoided further damage by getting Marcus Semien to ground to third, striking out Chad Pinder, and inducing Jed Lowrie to pop out in a meaningful moment for his recovery.
“There’s up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player. You’ve just got to work through it and try to make your way back,” Rodon said. “I’m here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”