White Sox manager Rick Renteria rarely causes a stir. Ozzie Guillen was more controversial in his sleep.
Earlier this season after being asked whether he prefers an MLB with or without replay reviews, Renteria replied: “No comment.”
So it was surprising to hear Renteria go off on the umpiring after Monday night’s game. Renteria was ticked after watching second baseman Yoan Moncada go 0-for-4 with one swinging strikeout and two more punchouts.
“He has as good an eye as anyone in baseball,” Renteria said. “Sometimes he gets some pitches called on him that should not be called — flat out, straight up. It’s a tough job that those (umpires) have to do, but this poor kid, honestly, I think he gets the short end of the stick a lot of times. Undeservedly.”
Well OK, then.
Moncada downplayed the issue before Tuesday night’s game and then made some noise with his bat.
After taking two outside pitches for balls and fouling one away off the Indians’ Adam Plutko, Moncada hammered a fastball to center. The 429-foot blast cleared the wall for his ninth home run — and fourth to lead off a game.
Yolmer Sanchez then went yard, and Matt Davidson drove home Daniel Palka for a three-run inning that launched the Sox to a 5-1 victory.
James Shields won for the first time since opening day, ending an 0-7 stretch with six no decisions. Shields, 36, pitched brilliantly over seven innings, allowing just one run on four hits and no walks.
“He has reinvented himself,” Renteria said. “He has a little different arm slot now and has become very comfortable with it. He changes speeds really well out of that it, (using a) couple of different velocities on breaking pitches. Still is able to work 91-92 (mph) and attack the strike zone … he continues to show everybody he can pitch.”
Said Shields: “The boys came out swinging and got me a couple of runs there. It definitely gave me the confidence to attack the zone against a really good lineup.”
He needed that: The home run must have felt magical for Moncada, who has made little impact since returning May 15 from a left hamstring injury.
Before the injury, he was batting .263 with a .359 on-base average and .509 slugging percentage. His 24-for-119 stretch dropped those to .232/.305/.411.
“I think everybody knows that my offense right now is not as good as it can be,” Moncada said via interpreter Billy Russo. “It’s a work in progress and I’m just trying to do my best.”
As for the umpiring, Moncada said: “I think I will have to make some adjustments because I’m getting too many calls that, for me, are not strikes.”
As in swing more?
“Just be more aware of the strike zone,” he said.
Renteria could take no issue Tuesday with the ball/strike calls by umpire Tom Woodring√. All were called properly, according to the WGN-9 Pitchcast, including when Woodring rung up Moncada in the sixth on a 3-2 pitch on the inside corner.
Renteria was actually echoing the sentiments of his boss, general manager Rick Hahn.
“One of my good buddies in Major League Baseball deals with the umpires, so I don’t want to go too far down this path,” he said Monday. “But Moncada had some tough ABs over the course of this road trip in terms of balls and strikes. The challenge for him, the developmental element, is to make sure he remains true to his approach.”
First things first: Jose Abreu leads AL first basemen in fan voting for the All-Star Game, having received 267,812 votes to outpace the Red Sox’s Mitch Moreland (241,889) and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (173,174).
Abreu is the first Sox player since Frank Thomas in 1996 to lead at any point in the balloting process. Only five Sox players — Thomas, Carlton Fisk, Richie Zisk, Dick Allen and Luis Aparicio — have been voted in.
Abreu said if he gets the nod, “it will be excellent because we play this game for the fans.”
Abreu, who made the All-Star team as a rookie in 2014, has 25 doubles, second in the AL to the Twins’ Eduardo Escobar. He entered Tuesday first among AL first basemen with 38 RBIs and a .512 slugging percentage.
“We’re pulling for him,” Renteria said. “We’d love for him to be there.”
Respecting 90: Charlie Tilson has tremendous speed, and he knows how to use it. Tilson beat out what looked like an obvious double-play ball in the fourth. He then motored into third — no hesitation — on a flared single to right by Adam Engel.
The effort went for naught, though, after third baseman Jose Ramirez went into the seats to snatch a Moncada popup. The Sox needed a Steve Bartman to deflect the ball.