Those who were looking for Yoan Moncada to offer a little more: Was this what you had in mind? A walk-off single in the 11th inning? Made possible because of a game-tying homer off Ken Giles in the ninth inning?
Granted, Moncada did fail to turn two double plays and struck out twice, so there is room for improvement. But when the game counted the most, Moncada’s patience at the plate yielded hittable pitches, and he made the most of them.
In the ninth, he gained a 2-0 advantage on GIles, and when Giles came back with a third straight fastball thigh-high and on the outer half, Moncada took it the other way for a homer into the first few rows of left field, tying the game.
Two innings later, Leury Garcia reached with a single, taking second when Josh Reddick overcharged the ball didn’t follow it into his glove. Rick Renteria might have asked others to bunt, but he let Moncada swing away. He swung through a first-pitch hanging slider, then took one down in and in. Martes tried to tilt the count in his favor by springing a fastball by him, but Moncada sprung it past him and into center field for the game-winning hit.
As a result, the league’s worst team swept the league’s best team.
Carlos Rodon made it possible with his third consecutive strong outing, and his second without a walk. It got shoved to the backburner thanks to extra innings, but it was a triumph of a different sort. He needed just 98 pitches, and that was despite a few botched plays behind him, and despite spending most of the game pitching out of the stretch after leadoff men reached. Instead of striking out 11 batters, he induced 11 groundouts.
It looked like a moral victory for most of the game. Jake Marisnick tagged him for a solo shot in the third, and Houston took advantage of one of Moncada’s bad turns when Marwin Gonzalez doubled home Yuli Gurriel from first with two outs in the sixth. It went as an earned run, but the scorer could have assumed the double play there. Moncada got a good feed from Yolmer Sanchez at third, but his sidearmed throw took Jose Abreu off the bag, which allowed Gurriel to stay alive on the basepaths.
Brad Peacock, meanwhile, had kinda lulled the Sox to sleep with his array of sliders and curves, but they started solving him in the sixth. Avi Garcia crushed a hanging slider off the top of the center field wall for a double, took third on a Nicky Delmonico cue shot and scored on a productive groundout by Yolmer Sanchez.
In the seventh, they forced Peacock out of the game after a single and a sac bunt. In came Chris Devenski, who immediately (phantom?) plunked Leury Garcia with a bouncer to put two runners on, but he came back to strike out Moncada and induce a popout from Abreu.
And in the eighth, it looked like the Sox blew their best chance to win it. They had runners on second and third with nobody out in the eighth inning against Luke Gregorson ... only to fizzle when Sanchez and Tim Anderson struck out, and Alen Hanson grounded out. The approaches on the strikeouts were terrible, because Gregorson only had to get one strike before sliders in the dirt took care of the rest.
Piss-poor at-bats like those make Moncada’s patience look enviable, even if it’s sometimes its own brand of frustrating. Tonight, it’s all smiles.
Record: 44-68 | Box score