ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — 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.
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.
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.
Abreu staked the White Sox to a big early lead when the 2020 AL MVP cracked his third career slam off Andrew Heaney (0-1) in the third inning. Heaney retired Chicago’s first seven batters before falling apart, allowing eight of the next nine to reach base and yielding seven runs on five hits.
Mercedes put the White Sox up 7-1, but Los Angeles gradually trimmed the margin to 7-6 before Chicago’s five-run ninth. Tim Anderson homered and Yasmani Grandal added a two-run double before Mercedes doubled to left.
Michael Kopeck (1-0) won in his first appearance since 2018, and Liam Hendriks got a four-out save in his White Sox debut.
The Australian closer barely retired Iglesias on a drive to the warning track with two Angels on in the eighth before his teammates gave him a huge ninth-inning cushion. Ohtani launched a two-run homer with two outs, but Hendriks struck out Anthony Rendon to end it.
Dallas Keuchel lasted just four innings for Chicago, yielding five hits and six runs — three unearned.
Yoan Moncada struck out five times for Chicago.
Anaheim native José Rojas made his major league debut for the Angels in the ninth, striking out as a pinch-hitter.
White Sox: Kopech pitched two hitless innings of relief with three strikeouts. The right-hander missed the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Angels: Manager Joe Maddon said reliever Ty Buttrey was placed on the restricted after he “chose to walk away from the game” rather than accept his assignment to the Angels’ alternate training site. Buttrey struggled with his control this spring. Maddon says the team will welcome back Buttrey if he returns to baseball.
Top White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn went 0 for 3 with a walk and a run while playing 6 1/2 innings in his major league debut.
Vaughn, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft, played left field and batted fifth one day before his 23rd birthday. Heaney struck him out in his first career at-bat, but the Santa Rosa, California, native walked in the fourth and scored on Adam Eaton’s single.
With Eloy Jimenez out for most of the season, Vaughn is expected to play left field regularly for Chicago despite being a natural first baseman who only made his pro debut as an outfielder on March 26 in spring training.
“It’s a dream come true, and now it’s just about doing the work,” Vaughn said.
Angels right-hander Chris Rodriguez pitched two innings of scoreless, two-hit relief in the 22-year-old prospect’s major league debut. Rodriguez had never pitched above Class A, but he rewarded the Angels’ spring faith in his outstanding stuff by looking right at home on the big league mound, striking out three.
Alex Cobb makes his Angels debut and Lance Lynn makes his White Sox debut in a meeting of 33-year-old veteran right-handers. Los Angeles acquired Cobb from Baltimore in February to boost its perennially troubled rotation, while Chicago landed the innings-eating Lynn from Texas last December.
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