ANAHEIM, Calif. — Yermin Mercedes has yet to make an out this season.
The 28-year-old Chicago White Sox rookie is the first player since at least 1900 to begin a season with eight straight hits. He had hits in his first three plate appearances Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels one night after becoming the second player in the modern era to get five hits in his first career start.
The previous best was by Cincinnati’s Chris Stynes, who started 1997 with seven straight hits.
Mercedes was supposed to have the night off against the Los Angeles Angels, but manager Tony La Russa said he earned his way into the lineup with Friday night’s performance. Mercedes, who is the designated hitter for the second straight night, drove Alex Cobb‘s splitter beyond the wall in left field to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the second.
Mercedes followed that with a single to center in the fourth inning and an RBI double to left-center in the sixth. He has hits in eight of his first nine MLB at-bats, having batted once last year in his big league debut.
“I wanted to get Jake Lamb in there one of the days, today or tomorrow,” La Russa said before Saturday’s game. “I was kind of holding it open. I could have played (Billy) Hamilton or could have played (Andrew) Vaughn at DH. It was open until Mercedes earned it.”
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.