ANAHEIM, Calif. (CBS/AP) — Yermín Mercedes finally made an out, but not before the White Sox rookie became the first player since at least 1900 to begin a season with eight straight hits.
The 28-year-old Mercedes got hits his first three times up Saturday night against the Los Angeles Angels before a flyout in the eighth inning.
On Friday night, Mercedes became the second player in the modern era to get five hits in his first career start.
The previous best start was by Cincinnati’s Chris Stynes, who started 1997 with seven straight hits.
Mercedes was supposed to have the night off, but manager Tony La Russa said he earned his way into the lineup with Friday night’s performance.
Mercedes, the Sox’ designated hitter for the second straight night, homered off Alex Cobb’s splitter to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the second. Mercedes followed that with a single in the fourth and an RBI double in the sixth.
He was pretty excited about it after the game.
“I’m so excited – every at-bat. Every at-bat, so excited. Just go to the home plate, do the best I can do,” Mercedes said. “I don’t know what I’m going to say right now or what I want to say, but I’m just so happy right now.”
What makes his performance even more special is the journey he took to get here He’s been grinding for 10 years with various minor league and independent league teams.
He admitted he thought of giving up at times, but it looks like all the work is paying off.
“I mean, it’s too hard. I just want to cry every time when I see I’m in the Major right now. I just want to cry, because it’s a long time. It’s a long time,” Mercedes said. “I passed everything. I got a big history, so it’s about time.”
Before this season, Mercedes had only one at-bat in the majors, making an out in his debut last year.
“I wanted to get Jake Lamb in there one of the days, today or tomorrow,” La Russa said before Saturday’s game. “I was kind of holding it open. I could have played (Billy) Hamilton or could have played (Andrew) Vaughn at DH. It was open until Mercedes earned it.”
The only players since 1900 to get five hits in their first career start are Mercedes and Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators, who went 5 for 7 in 1933. Fred Clarke also did it for the Louisville Colonels in 1894.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)