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Khalil Lee’s first eight big-league at-bats didn’t go the way he hoped, as the 22-year-old went down on strikes in each of those first eight trips to the batter’s box.
But he put all of that behind him on Friday night, as he came up with a huge pinch-hit RBI double to right field in the top of the 12th inning to help the Mets come up with a wild 6-5 win over the Miami Marlins.
Lee’s first hit in the majors couldn’t have come in a bigger spot, as it was the Mets’ first extra-base hit since Tomas Nido doubled in the top of the fourth. It was the big blow the Mets had been in search of all game, and it was the hit that Lee has been working towards his whole life.
“This is about the best scenario that you could draw up … coming in in a big situation, the team counting on me to pull through, all the light shining, it was just the perfect scenario,” Lee said afterwards.
“Watching [the game], it was definitely interesting to watch, and then you get to actually get in there and get in on the action, that’s even better. I was locked in the whole time. They kept me on my toes at all times, both teams, all the guys kept me on my toes the whole game, I was on the edge of my seat.”
In his first taste of big-league action, Lee, who was acquired by the Mets from Kansas City as part of a three-team trade this offseason, had been prone to over-swinging in his first eight at-bats.
But Luis Rojas saw the adjustment that the 22-year-old made at the plate, as he wasn't trying to swing for the fences like he had been doing in his first few at-bats.
“He was actually very honest about how things were going for him when he stood at the plate,” Rojas said. “He made a couple of plays in the outfield, so in the outfield it was a little different, he had a chance to slow things down a little bit. At the plate, he wasn’t. I’m just glad that he made the adjustment from one day to another.
“That was a huge night for him. I told him ‘Congrats’ like five times already, in-game and then postgame as well. He’s got to be a really happy person right now, getting his first hit and contributing for the win tonight.”
“I try to come into every game like it’s a brand new game,” Lee said, “so I was ready for what was at task, ready to get up there, and like I’ve been saying since I got up here, help the team out as much as I can, anyway I can.”
Despite his rocky start at the plate to begin his career as a major leaguer, Lee will always be able to look back fondly on his first hit in the show, and as for the ball? He knows exactly where that will end up.
“The ball is definitely going to my parents,” Lee said. “They’re going to take care of that for me.”