MINNEAPOLIS -- Yoan Moncada was with the Boston Red Sox in 2016 as David Ortiz's last Major League season was coming to a close. So he has a little experience dealing with this sort of euphoric celebration.On Sunday, as the White Sox second baseman, he walked to the plate in
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yoan Moncada was with the Boston Red Sox in 2016 as David Ortiz's last Major League season was coming to a close. So he has a little experience dealing with this sort of euphoric celebration.
On Sunday, as the White Sox second baseman, he walked to the plate in the ninth inning of the White Sox 5-4 loss to the Twins at the heart of the Joe Mauer on-field festivities. Moncada was the scheduled leadoff hitter when Mauer came out wearing his catcher's gear for the first time since 2013.
Before Matt Belisle threw his first and what would be his only pitch to Mauer, the Twins legend had a special request of Moncada.
"In the last inning, when [Mauer] went to home plate, he said, 'Can you take this first pitch?'" Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo.
Moncada obliged, and with that fastball outside, Mauer's day and maybe his illustrious career came to a close. The White Sox youngster even took some time to speak with Mauer on the basepaths in the seventh inning.
"When [Mauer] hit a double and he got to second base, I approached him and said, 'Congratulations. It was an honor to play against you,'" Moncada said.
"[After taking the first pitch,] he told me thank you. It was very exciting. It was a very emotional moment. I'm just glad to be part of that."
Moncada's kindness was rewarded when he doubled to left off of Belisle, marking his 32nd double this season as one of the White Sox core players at the heart of the club's rebuild. He also struck out for a Major League-high 217th time, and both of these statistics represented the highs and lows of Year 2 of the White Sox rebuild ending in a 62-100 record.
The White Sox dropped eight of their final nine games and all four games this weekend against the Twins to reach the 100-loss mark for the fourth time in franchise history and the first time since losing 106 in 1970. White Sox manager Rick Renteria didn't necessarily want to harp on the final record as much as his team's fight in this final game.
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"I thought if we had gone out just laying flat it would have meant significantly more," Renteria said. "But for me, it was just another game where we gave ourselves a chance, potential winning run at the plate in the ninth. We weren't able to come through.
"As far as the numbers, they are what they are. I have to reflect on how we got to that point and some of the things we need to do to correct it and move on."
Dylan Covey lost, allowing five runs on six hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked two. In keeping with the Mauer theme for the day, Covey also had a connection.
Michael Wagner, his roommate at the University of San Diego, was a big Twins fan, so the two watched a lot of Mauer during those collegiate years.
"He was a huge Joe Mauer fan," Covey said. "So yesterday, that was going through my head a little bit remembering him, remembering all the times I would watch him just because it was like my buddy was such a huge Twins fan and Joe Mauer fan.
"That's one of the stories in baseball that you don't see too much: a guy that starts his career with one team and plays the entirety of it, so it was pretty cool. Obviously a great career for him. It was a cool moment."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
And so it ends: Moncada's was left stranded at second after his leadoff double in the ninth, with Trevor May striking out Ryan Cordell and Yolmer Sanchez then retiring Leury Garcia on a long flyout to right. The White Sox fanned 15 times in the game, extending their Major League single-season record to 1,594 strikeouts.
Moncada became the first White Sox player 23 or younger with at least 30 doubles, 15 home runs, 60 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in a single season.
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HE SAID IT
"You never want to lose, especially you don't want to lose 100 games in a season. But it's just part of the process. I think that we are going to be better and stronger next season. I think that's because of all the things we passed through this season."-- Moncada, on 100 losses
"That was a cool moment for everybody to see somebody who has been in the game as long as he has, having the success he has had. It was pretty cool. Our guys, you saw them up in the dugout also acknowledging him. Those are peers doing something for their peer who they respect and admire."-- Renteria, on the Mauer celebration
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.