ANAHEIM, California, USA (AP) – Yermín Mercedes could not stand out for three years in the organization of the Washington Nationals. Now, he says he wants to cry just to see that he has made it to the majors with the Chicago White Sox.
After what he accomplished in their first opening match on Friday, the Dominican will surely still be sobbing.
Mercedes had his first five major league hits and produced four runs for the White Sox to beat the Los Angeles Angels 12-8 on Friday night.
Cuban José Abreu joined the batting festival, with a grand slam for Chicago.
Mercedes, the 28-year-old catcher who played the second game of his career, was 5-for-5 in an extraordinary performance as a designated hitter. He hit a two-run single in the fourth and a double that drove in another pair in the ninth.
Thus, Chicago achieved its first victory in the incipient campaign.
“Now I am very excited,” Mercedes said. “I don’t even know what to say now or what I want to say, but I’m very happy.”
After the failure with Washington, Mercedes played independent ball in 2014, before breaking through in the minors with Baltimore and Chicago, who selected him under the so-called Rule 5 of draft in 2017.
Mercedes had only one pinch-hitting plate appearance in the White Sox’s previous season.
“I want to cry every time I see that I am now in the majors,” he said. “A lot of time has passed. I have a great story, so it was a matter of time, but it has been difficult for me. Now I look around me and I have to repeat to myself: ‘It’s real, I’m here.’
Mercedes joined Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators as the only players since 1900 to have five hits in their first opening game. Travis succeeded in 1933.
Fred Clarke had done it before, in 1894, with the Louisville Colonels.
“A lot of things happened, and the biggest was the designated hitter,” said manager Tony La Russa, who took his first win in his second stint with the White Sox.
Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer to hit 663 home runs in his life. Shohei Ohtani also hit a home run in the ninth inning and Mike Trout hit a pair of hits for the Angels.
Cuban José Iglesias and Dexter Fowler brought their first hits with their new club, but the Angels’ old problems with their rotation reappeared.
The victory went to Michael Kopeck (1-0) and the save to Liam Hendriks. Andrew Heaney (0-1) took the loss.
For the White Sox, Cubans Luis Robert 4-1 with one run scored, Abreu 4-2 with two runs scored and four RBIs, Yoán Moncada 5-0, Yasmani Grandal 5-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs. The Dominican Mercedes 5-5 with a run scored and four RBIs.
For the Angels, Pujols 3-1 with one run scored and three RBIs. The Cuban Iglesias 4-1.