Yoan Moncada wants to make the White Sox’ front office look smart.
In April, the 23-year-old third baseman did his share, batting .314/.374/.571 with five home runs, six doubles and 17 RBI and looking like the player the Sox believed they were getting when they traded perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale to the Red Sox for him and three other prospects — right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Basabe and righty Victor Diaz.
Moncada, who batted .235/.315/.400 with 17 homers, 32 doubles, 61 RBI and a whopping 217 strikeouts in 2018, his first full season in the majors, was somewhat overshadowed in April by shortstop Tim Anderson, who looks like the favorite for American League Player of the Month honors. But it was Moncada and catcher James McCann who led the team in Baseball Reference’s wins above replacement (0.9), a fraction ahead of Anderson and Leury Garcia at 0.8.
“I did all the things I wanted to do and got good results,” Moncada said.
For the rebuilding Sox (13-15), the results in April were far from very good, and they needed Yonder Alonso’s walk-off single in the ninth inning Wednesday to claim a doubleheader split against the scuffling Orioles (11-21). The Sox won the nightcap 7-6 after losing the first game 5-4.
Moncada, who went 1-for-8 with two walks, two runs and a couple of nice plays at third base in the doubleheader, said his April numbers are sustainable, “but I can’t be satisfied with what I did,” he said. “I have to keep working.’’
The Red Sox have been satisfied with Sale, who helped them win the World Series in 2018. But he’s struggling mightily with an 0-5 record and 6.30 ERA in 2019. Sale is scheduled to face his former team Friday in the second game of a four-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Kopech, the Sox’ No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be back till next season. Basabe is the organization’s No. 7 prospect.
While time will tell who “wins” the trade, Moncada will do what he can to tilt it in the White Sox’ favor.
“That’s what we want,” Moncada said. “That’s what we’re looking for. Hopefully we’re going to accomplish that, but that’s definitely our goal.”
The Sox’ goal of sweeping a doubleheader to reach .500 on the first day of May was wrecked by a blown four-run lead in Game 1. Left-hander Carlos Rodon lasted 3‰ innings in his second consecutive poor start, giving up three runs. Rodon (5.19 ERA) was dealing with a minor blister issue, but manager Rick Renteria didn’t pin the bad inning on that.
“They put something in it, and every outing he has, it’s under control,” Renteria said.
Staked to a 4-0 lead against righty David Hess aided by three Orioles errors, Rodon did what he didn’t want to do — walk the leadoff man and give up two singles in a labor-intensive, three-run, 41-pitch fourth.
“He was leaving pitches out over the plate, and they were obviously doing a lot with it,” Renteria said.
Sox lefty Jace Fry allowed the tying run and Kelvin Herrera the go-ahead run.
In the nightcap, Ivan Nova (8.33 ERA), who has allowed 20 earned runs in 16 innings in his last three starts, also struggled, giving up five runs and nine hits.
Jose Abreu drove in four runs, including three on a single with a hustling Nicky Delmonico scoring from first to give the Sox a 5-4 lead in the fourth. Anthony Santander’s homer against Nova tied it, and two errors by Anderson in the seventh — his seventh and eighth of the season — gave the Orioles the lead.
In the ninth, Abreu, 4-for-9 with six RBI in the twinbill, was walked intentionally by Miguel Castro to get to Alonso, who was 0-for-8 before the game-winner.
“It was just a really grinding game, just what a grinding day feels like,” Alonso said. “It was good to win a series.”