Mercedes gets 1st 5 career hits, White Sox beat Angels 12-8

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Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu (79) high-fives Yermin Mercedes (73) after hitting a grand slam during the third inning of an MLB baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Friday, April 2, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. Mercedes, Tim Anderson, and Luis Robert (88) also scored. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Yermín Mercedes got his first five major league hits and drove in four runs, and José Abreu hit a grand slam for the Chicago White Sox in their 12-8 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

Mercedes, a 28-year-old catcher playing in his second career game, went 5 for 5 in an extraordinary performance as Chicago's designated hitter. He delivered a two-run single in the fourth and a two-run double in the ninth inning of Chicago's first victory this season.

“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.

“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.’”

Albert Pujols hit a three-run shot for his 663rd career homer, Shohei Ohtani homered in the ninth inning and Mike Trout had two hits for the Angels. José Iglesias and Dexter Fowler both got their first hit for their new club, but Los Angeles' long-standing rotation problems have already returned in 2021.