Wei-Yin Chen is finally off the schneid.
The Miami Marlins pitcher entered Friday’s game against the New York Mets without a base hit through 50 career at-bats. That marked the longest active hitless streak for a player to begin his MLB career. But that all changed when Chen legged out an infield single in his second at-bat of the game.
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Oddly enough, the person who needed the most convincing he’d actually recorded a hit was Chen himself.
Here’s what he told reporters after the game, courtesy of MLB.com.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on there,” Chen said. “Maybe it was an error. Bone (first base coach Perry Hill) told me it was a hit. I was really excited, even though I didn’t know what was going on there.”
Chen’s comments may have been tongue-in-cheek, but we wouldn’t blame him for being unsure. First and foremost, he was focused on running, so he probably didn’t see what all happened. Beyond that, he had one hit taken away last season due to an official scorer’s ruling, so perhaps he needed to see it to believe it.
The good news is Friday’s hit should stand. That means it will snap an 0-for-51 start to Chen’s career, which more than doubled the next closest hitter on the list (Jose Quintana, 0-for-24). The streak was also getting dangerously close to Jon Lester’s record of 66 straight hitless at-bats to begin a career, which was snapped in 2015.
According to the Marlins broadcast, Chen was using one of Dee Gordon’s bats. Unfortunately, he couldn’t borrow Gordon’s wheels, but he made up for that by slapping it to a spot where shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera couldn’t make a play.
“It had something to do with Dee’s bat,” Chen said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It might have something to do with Ichiro [Suzuki] was sitting besides me. Maybe he brought me the aura of the hit.”
Perhaps it’s that, or perhaps the baseball just went to the one spot it needed to go the whole time.
Whatever the case, Chen’s .333 batting average for the young season looks pretty darn good. As for his career average, which is now .018, well, it’s better than .000. He’s in the books now at least, and there’s only one direction that average can go from here.
Chen was also good on the hill in Miami’s 7-2 win. He picked up the win after allowing one run on seven hits over six innings. He added five strikeouts.
A hit and a win in the same game is about as good as it gets.
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