The White Sox sent 13 batters to the plate, hit for the cycle as a team and saw the first three batters in their lineup go 2-for-2 — all in the first inning — Saturday against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
By the time it was over, eight runs had scored against Royals top pitching prospect Daniel Lynch. The sixth and seventh runs came on No. 9 hitter Danny Mendick’s home run into the Sox’ bullpen in left field.
Tim Anderson’s second hit, a single, was the knockout blow for Lynch. Nick Madrigal and Yoan Moncada, who doubled his first time up to drive in the first two runs, followed with singles against reliever Tyler Zuber for their second hits of the first before Jose Abreu hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
It was the Sox’ biggest inning of the season and the first time they scored eight runs and hit for a cycle in the first inning since April 21, 2002, against the Tigers. Their nine hits were the most they’ve had in the first inning since at least 1974.
When the inning was over, the Sox’ run differential was a major-league-best plus-39.
Right on, Danny!
Mendick’s start in right field was the first major-league appearance of his career in the outfield. A versatile infielder by trade, Mendick got the nod from manager Tony La Russa, an opportunity he relished because he knows it will enhance his super-utility value.
‘‘You want to be more versatile in this day and age, be able to play every position, and all that’s going to do is be an asset to the club,’’ Mendick said. ‘‘We’re down a couple of guys. Just try to help this team any way I possibly can.’’
Mendick played nine games in left field in 2019 at Triple-A Charlotte. He hadn’t played right field anywhere.
With injuries to Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Adam Engel depleting the outfield depth, La Russa boldly has plugged inexperienced outfielders Andrew Vaughn and Jake Lamb into the mix, too. Left-handed-hitting Adam Eaton’s career splits against lefties (.267/.340/.346) aren’t bad, but he is nursing a sore knee.
But La Russa’s confidence in Mendick couldn’t have been greater, despite his inexperience.
‘‘I hope they hit 27 balls out there to him,’’ La Russa said before the game. ‘‘That’s how confident I am. He gets all the infield work [pregame], and then he goes out there in left, center and right and looks like a small version of [Gold Glove center fielder] Robert. I hope the ball goes his way.’’
Mendick handled his first chance, a fly ball toward the foul line in the first, routinely.
In 59 major-league games since 2019, Mendick has played all but first base in the infield, was a designated hitter once and got an inning of mop-up work on the mound last month at Fenway Park.
This and that
Left-hander Carlos Rodon’s 0.58 ERA is the lowest by a Sox pitcher in his first five games (all starts) of a season. The next four are Joe Benz, 0.65 in 1914; Cisco Carlos, 0.81 in 1967; John W. Humphries, 0.82 in 1943; and Joe Horlen, 0.91 in 1967.
• The Sox had 26 homers, the fewest in the American League, entering play Saturday. They were second in the AL last season.