Yoan Moncada picked a great time to end his month-long power outage.
The Sox were clinging to a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning of Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader with the Orioles. One swing from either side could make the difference, on a day where four home runs had been hit already.
Moncada made it five, sending a two-run blast to the right field bleachers to give the White Sox breathing room, a 7-4 lead they held for a seven-inning win.
One area of Moncada’s game that has been lacking so far this season is his slugging. He entered Saturday with just eight extra-base hits in May, all doubles. In fact, you had to go all the way back to April 29 vs. Detroit for the last time he went deep.
But the 26-year-old has done plenty of good at the plate this season despite the lack of long balls.
Moncada entered Saturday hitting .274. His on-base percentage stood at .409, in part due to a stout 16.7 walk rate — good for fifth in baseball among qualified hitters.
“He consistently all year long is right there with the best at-bats,” manager Tony La Russa said after the Game 1 win. “You watch his at-bats, he takes the base on balls.”
“He doesn’t chase really much, uses the whole field right and left, and he makes solid contact,” La Russa added.
Moncada, after two in Game 1, has drawn 24 walks in 25 games in May. He's reached base safely in 20 of his last 21 games, batting .299 (20-for-67) over that stretch.
The switch hitter is only two seasons removed from a 25-homer campaign in which he slugged over .500. The Sox know the power is in his bat and that it’s only a matter of time before it comes out.
“As it warms up, there will be enough balls that leave the park,” La Russa said.
In the meantime, he’s producing in other ways to help the team win.
“He’s another guy that has the ability to hit for a high average, and that’s what we need,” La Russa added.