Yermin Mercedes became the first player in the modern era to go 5-for-5 in his first career start, leading the Chicago White Sox to a 12-8 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night at Angels Stadium.
Mercedes, a 28-year-old catcher playing in his second career game, also drove in four runs in an extraordinary performance as Chicago’s designated hitter.
“I’m so excited right now,” Mercedes said. “I don’t even know what to say right now, or what I want to say, but I’m just so happy.”
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.
Mercedes singled in his first at-bat in the third, delivered a two-run single in the fourth, then singled in the sixth and eighth innings before capping his night with a two-run double in the ninth.
“There were a lot of great things that happened, and the greatest thing was the designated hitter,” said manager Tony La Russa, who got the first victory of his second stint running the White Sox.
After failing to catch on during three years in the Nationals’ system, Mercedes played independent ball in 2014 before grinding his way up the minors with Baltimore and Chicago, which snagged him as a Rule 5 pick in 2017. Mercedes got just one plate appearance as a pinch-hitter for the White Sox last season.
“I just want to cry every time I see I’m in the majors right now,” Mercedes said. “It’s a long time. I’ve got a big history, so it’s about time, but it’s hard for me because just looking around, and I’m like, ‘It’s real. I’m here.'”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.