KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yoan Moncada came up with a big hit and the White Sox lost. All in all, not a bad night.
Moncada made his first big splash with the Sox on Friday night in his second game since being promoted from Class AAA Charlotte. The 22-year-old rookie infielder laced an opposite-field, three-run triple and drove in four runs in his first two at-bats against the Kansas City Royals.
But James Shields couldn’t hold an early four-run lead and Tyler Clippard gave up the winning run in the 10th inning as the Sox lost their seventh consecutive game, 7-6, before 29,647 at Kauffman Stadium.
“Once I got that first hit, I felt relieved,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “First, because it was the first one. And second, because of the situation. It was a very big moment of the game. I think from now on I’m going to feel more relaxed and comfortable.”
Moncada grounded out to short and first in his final two at-bats to go 1-for-4. He’s 1-for-6 (.167) in two games. But with the Sox in full rebuild mode, one swing of Moncada’s bat goes a long way.
“He’s been having some really good at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think he’s seeing the ball. He seems pretty calm. He looks very composed out there. It’s just a couple of days, but in terms of how he’s carrying himself, his body language, he seems to be transitioning pretty well to this point.
Said Moncada: “In Chicago, the first game, I was a little bit nervous. But overall, I’ve been very comfortable. Hitting and my defense, I’ve been feeling very, very comfortable.”
The Sox are trying not to expect too much too soon from the heralded Moncada, but lowering expectations will be difficult. He is rated the No. 1 prospect in baseball, acquired in the trade that sent fan favorite Chris Sale to Boston.
He didn’t get a hit in his Sox debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field — going 0-for-2 with a hard-earned walk. But even that performance drew rave reviews from Sox slugger Jose Abreu.
“Perfect. He was perfect,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s a process for him, too, and we all know he has to go step by step. All the people that around him can help him and guide him through the process. But so far he has been great.”
He was much, much better in his second game. Moncada fielded Whit Merrifield’s sharply, short-hopping liner leading off. He has fielded his position flawlessly in two games — a small sample, no doubt.
In his first at-bat in the second inning, Moncada drove in Avisail Garcia from third on a ground out to first for his first RBI with the Sox for a 1-0 lead. And he showed off both his power and his speed with a deep drive to left-center off starter Ian Kennedy — motoring to third without hesitation for a triple that gave the Sox a 5-1 lead. Abreu, Garcia and Matt Davidson scored on the hit.
Shields couldn’t hold that lead. He allowed six runs and 10 hits in 4⅓ innings, leaving after Alex Gordon’s two-run double to tie the game 6-6.
“Obviously when you get a lead, you want to keep the lead,” Shields said. “I went back out for the next inning and gave up the home run to [Mike] Moustakas and didn’t do my job the next inning right away, so . . .”
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