There was nobody on base with two outs in the top of the fourth inning when Wei-Yin Chen stepped to the plate for the second time in the game on Friday night.
Chen was making his first start of the season, and after a rough 2016 campaign, was pitching well through three innings. He had given up four hits but only one run, and had struck out three Mets on his way to recording nine outs.
It was not the ideal situation for a pitcher to hit, as Derek Dietrich and Adeiny Hechavarria had both been retired to start the inning.
Therefore, Chen could have rolled over. He could have taken three pitches in the strike zone, walked back to the dugout and gotten ready for his next inning on the mound. And no one would blame him—the 31-year-old lefty came into the at-bat 0-for-51 in his career at the plate. He had even already struck out to end the second inning.
Those first 51 at-bats actually included 22 strikeouts, and never even a walk or a hit by pitch. Chen had never even been on base!
But his fourth inning at-bat at Citi Field was different. After taking a fastball and fouling off a slider to fall behind 0-2, Chen didn’t give in—he kept fighting. He was able to lay off a slider and a fastball that were down and out of the zone to even the count at 2-2, and then fought off a fastball on the inside corner to stay alive.
On another 2-2 offering, Chen finally got his pitch. A 93-mph Zack Wheeler fastball that caught just enough of the barrel to get past Wheeler, but not enough for Jose Reyes to make a play. Here’s how the magic unfolded.
And so there it was, the moment all Marlins fans have been waiting for—a hit from Wei-Yin Chen. Here’s to many more. * clink *