Mercedes 1st modern player to open year 8 for 8, streak ends

Sports

Chicago White Sox’s Yermin Mercedes (73) runs the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Saturday, April 3, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Yermín Mercedes finally made an out, but not before the Chicago 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 he became the second player in the modern era to get five hits in his first career start, and the first to go 5 for 5.

“I never imagined that. It is great for me,” Mercedes said after the White Sox lost 5-3 on Saturday. “Now, it’s a new day for me. I want to keep doing well and work with my approach. I want to play every day and I’m excited for that.”

The previous best start to a season was by Cincinnati’s Chris Stynes, who began 1997 with seven consecutive hits.

Mercedes was supposed to have the night off Saturday, but manager Tony La Russa said he earned his way into the lineup with Friday night’s performance.

Mercedes, Chicago’s 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.

“All of his hits have been clutch and he has been putting us in position to try to win. He has had a great approach, especially with two strikes,” La Russa said.

Before this season, Mercedes had only one at-bat in the majors, making an out in his debut last year.

“I’m just trying to wait for my pitch and not do too much. Just stay right there and swing hard,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it is two strikes or no strikes, I just want to see the ball.”

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.

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