ANAHEIM – For the second game of the year, there was a lot to digest for White Sox fans late Friday night.
They saw their MVP get his biggest hit of the new year, a big lead get away, a veteran pitcher have a short outing while a young one made a strong return.
Yet one player stood out above the rest at Angels Stadium of Anaheim, and it’s not someone who you would have thought coming in. After all, Yermin Mercedes had yet to get a hit in his major league career before Friday night.
But when he did, the designated hitter made sure to stop there.
Against the Angels on Friday night, Mercedes got a hit in all five plate appearances and drove in four RBI in a wild 12-8 win where the White Sox had to hold off their opponent a few times.
Per the White Sox, Mercedes is the first player to go 5-for-5 in his first start in the modern era, with only Cecil Travis of Washington getting five hits in his maiden start in 1933 in seven at-bats.
Playing in only his second career game, Mercedes drove in a pair of runs in the fourth inning to increase their lead to 7-1. After Anaheim rallied to cut the advantage to one late, the designated hitter finished off his day with a two-RBI double in the ninth to finish the scoring.
It’s quite a moment for Mercedes, who finally made his major league debut for one game in 2020 after spending ten season in the minors with Washington, Baltimore, and then the White Sox starting in 2018.
His was the biggest storyline in a night full of them as the White Sox got on the board in the win column in 2021. Jose Abreu’s grand slam was a part of the visitor’s strong start in building a six-run lead, but starter Dallas Keuchel could hold the Angels down.
The pitcher allowed six runs – three of them earned – in four innings of work, but the White Sox got a boost from the bullpen. They gave the White Sox four scoreless innings, with Michael Kopech pitching two of those with three strikeouts compared to one walk and no hits allowed.
Friday was his first game on the mound since late in the 2018 season when it was determined he needed Tommy John surgery. Kopech opted out of the shortened 2020 season but looked rested and relaxed in his 2021 debut.
Liam Hendriks got out of a jam in the eighth in his White Sox debut but surrendered a two-run home to Shohei Ohtani in the ninth. Luckily a five-run ninth, fueled by the star of the night, helped Hendriks earn his first save.