Reynaldo Lopez backed by two Yoan Moncada home runs in White Sox’ win
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The White Sox wanted third baseman Yoan Moncada to continue his start. They wanted the opposite from right-hander Reynaldo Lopez.
On Tuesday, the Sox got what they were looking for.
Moncada had the first multihomer game of his career, and Lopez allowed one run in six innings in the Sox’ 5-1 victory Tuesday against the Royals. Moncada homered in the third and fifth to continue what looks like a breakout season for one of the cornerstones of the Sox’ future.
‘‘I’m feeling very, very comfortable,’’ Moncada said through a translator. ‘‘I learned a lot last year. But right now I feel very, very comfortable.’’
There has been plenty of good for Moncada this season. He has been more aggressive early in counts and protecting the plate later in his at-bats. His move to third base from second also is paying off, as he showed when he snared a sharp grounder by Chris Owings in the fourth to start a double play.
It’s clear there’s something different about Moncada since last season.
‘‘Everything,’’ said designated hitter Yonder Alonso, who had four hits, including a homer. ‘‘Just a guy who’s focused, a guy who comes in here with a mission, a guy who comes in here with a purpose. It’s fun to watch. It’s even better to enjoy when you see him at 1 o’clock when nobody else sees him. We’ve just got to continue. It’s a long season. Enjoy the good and learn from the bad and go from there.’’
There wasn’t as much good for Moncada in 2018. He struck out 217 times and had only a .315 on-base percentage, and his performance in the field was drawing questions. His talent was still obvious, but it wasn’t translating into the results expected of a player acquired from the Red Sox for ace left-hander Chris Sale.
‘‘Last year was last year,’’ Moncada said. ‘‘I passed through many different things. It’s in the past. I learned from them. I learned from all the experiences I had last year. Now I’m just enjoying this moment and just enjoying this season and doing my best.’’
Entering the game, things hadn’t been enjoyable for Lopez during a frustrating and surprisingly difficult April.
One year after emerging as one of the Sox’ best arms, he was 0-2 with a 12.15 ERA, had allowed six homers and had walked four in each of his first three starts.
‘‘I don’t worry about him because I know him,’’ catcher Welington Castillo said before the game. ‘‘We are really tight, and I know what he can do.’’
Castillo had said Lopez might need only one good start to regain his momentum. It came against the Royals’ Jorge Lopez in what the Elias Sports Bureau said was the first big-league matchup between two pitchers with the last name of Lopez.
‘‘This will help me to increase my confidence level,’’ Reynaldo Lopez said through a translator. ‘‘I worked hard. I tried to adjust and fix the things that were going wrong for me. I just did it. This one was a good one, and hopefully there are more to come.’’