Bullpen blows another lead, defense shaky again as White Sox fall to Angels

Justin Upton’s homer against Evan Marshall capped a three-run rally in the eighth inning and sent the Sox to a 5-3 loss.

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Los Angeles Angels’ Justin Upton (10) celebrates with teammates after he hit a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 3, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. Jared Walsh also scored. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Yermin Mercedes made history with hits in his first eight plate appearances, the last one giving the White Sox a lead against the host Angels.

So much for enjoying a piece of Sox history.

The Sox (1-2) had another poor defensive game and their bullpen failed to hold a late lead for the second time in their first three games, adding up to a 5-3 loss to the Angels Saturday night. Right-hander Evan Marshall allowed a tying RBI triple to Jared Walsh before Justin Upton broke the tie with a two-run homer in the eighth.

“Those guys have the same goals as we do,” Marshall said. “Tomorrow is a new day.”

Who knows what tomorrow will bring for Mercedes. A night after going 5-for-5 in his first major league start, Mercedes homered, singled and doubled in his first three plate appearances before flying out to center field, falling two hits shy of the Sox record for consecutive hits. Hall of Famer Frank Thomas (1997) is one of three players who share the record.

“He didn’t hit for the cycle so I’m going to have to hold that against him,” manager Tony La Russa quipped.

Mercedes is the first player in the modern era of the major leagues to begin a season 8-for-8, with one Sox win and one loss to show for it in the games he was the designated hitter.

“Getting eight-straight hits in the majors, I never imagined that,” Mercedes said.

“Now, it’s a new day for me because I just want to keep doing the thing that I’ve been doing everyday and working with my approach, put the ball in play everyday, so I’m excited for that.”

Lance Lynn needed 99 pitches to get through 4 23 innings in his first start as a Sox, allowing two unearned runs as the Sox defense continued a bad opening series. The Angels have scored seven unearned runs in three games.

“We haven’t played a clean game, but we haven’t hit a clean game either,” La Russa said. “We didn’t have the at-bats we usually have. So, I just think it gives you something to work on, pay attention to.”

Two unearned runs in the third inning resulted from a comical error by Gold Glove center fielder Luis Robert, who called off shortstop Tim Anderson on Anthony Rendon’s popup, only to have it bounce off the bill of his cap for a two-out error allowing the Angels’ David Fletcher to score from first.

Jared Walsh followed with a single scoring Rendon — who had moved into scoring position when Eaton picked up the Robert drop and skipped the throw into the infield off the pitcher’s mound for another error — to give the Angels another unearned run and a 2-1 lead.

“If you take the mound, your job is to pick guys up. They pick you up when you have bad games,” Lynn said. “This game is nasty. There is no blame, you’re all about making the next pitch and that’s the truth of the matter.”

The game has been anything but nasty for Mercedes. La Russa said he hasn’t seen anything like it.

“I was just thinking there isn’t anything that comes close,” La Russa said. “He upset when he made the out. And it’s clutch. That’s the thing, it’s not just for show. He’s putting us in a great position to win.”

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