CHICAGO -- It was a series of firsts executed by White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada when he batted in the top of the first inning against Seattle starter Felix Hernandez during Chicago's 4-3 loss on Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.Moncada connected on the first pitch from Hernandez for the first
CHICAGO -- It was a series of firsts executed by White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada when he batted in the top of the first inning against Seattle starter Felix Hernandez during Chicago's 4-3 loss on Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Moncada connected on the first pitch from Hernandez for the first leadoff home run of his career. It also became the White Sox first leadoff home run this season.
Hernandez was the second Cy Young Award winner against whom Moncada has homered among his 13 career long balls, joining Jacob Arrieta on that short list.
"Every time you hit a home run against one of those guys, former Cy Young winners, you feel good," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo. "But you feel good also every time you hit a homer no matter who is the pitcher.
"I was trying to be aggressive in that at-bat. Swing at the first pitch. It was a good pitch for me and I put the barrel on the ball and made good contact. That was it."
The start of Wednesday's contest wasn't quite as good for Hernandez, who yielded a Yolmer Sanchez double on the game's second pitch. But after allowing two runs in the first, Hernandez settled down.
In fact, the right-hander struck out Moncada in each of their next two matchups.
"After that, I just made my adjustments," Hernandez said. "The first pitch of the game was in the middle of the plate. It was the first pitch. They were just swinging."
That first pitch was an 87.1 mph changeup, which departed with a 108.5 mph exit velocity courtesy of Moncada, traveling 394 feet per Statcast™. Moncada's average has risen to .244 with an .871 OPS to go with six doubles, five home runs, 11 RBIs and a team-high 13 walks and 38 strikeouts. White Sox manager Rick Renteria believes the 22-year-old has just scratched the surface as far as his full potential, and Moncada agrees with that assessment.
"I'm just in the learning process. It's step by step," said Moncada, who is hitting .333 with four home runs and eight RBIs over his last eight games. "I think that I have a lot of talent and I can be a much better player overall. It's just a process. I try to improve and get better every day."
Renteria is making sure the club does everything it can to help Moncada adjust.
"Right now he's working on improving his approaches against left-handed pitchers," said Renteria, who has dropped Moncada in the order at times to help him against southpaws. "Seems to me the last couple of days he's shown some pretty good signs against lefties in his at-bats, contact, swings, approach, and so we're going to try to continue to develop whatever we need to do in order to maximize the confidence he can gain and the opportunities he gets in any situation."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.