Zack Wheeler is not necessarily known for his hitting acumen - at least he shouldn't be, since he's a starting pitcher. But with the New York Mets' bench spread thin by the possibility of playing extra innings against the Washington Nationals on Friday night, manager Terry Collins decided to give his pitcher a pinch hitting opportunity. He capitalized in a major way, putting his team in a position to potentially take the lead in the seventh inning of the game.

Pinch hitter extraordinaire

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a tied game, the stakes were somewhat high to bring in Wheeler to hit for Matt Harvey, who was done for the night after throwing seven innings.

Going up against Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark, Wheeler sought his pitch and eventually took a good swing, sending a blooper into right field. Bryce Harper came on for the catch, but misjudged the distance and couldn't grab it, letting it bounce to the side wall and allowing Wheeler to advance to second base.

The excitement was palpable. Wheeler showed a bright smile as he pulled into second base standing up. The pitchers and players on the bench all got up and cheered their surprising savior. The Mets then followed his at bat up with two walks, loading the bases for first baseman Jay Bruce. He couldn't get a hit or walk to bring in the go-ahead run for the team, though, making the pinch hitting experience nothing more than an epic footnote for the starter.

An unexpected moment

Its been a while since Wheeler has hit a double in a major league game - July 11, 2014. Part of that is likely due to the two years he missed with an injury, though. He also became the first Mets pitcher to record a pinch hit since Jon Niese did it against the Miami Marlins on May 16, 2011, a nearly six-year gap between pinch hits for a staff that has actually become known for their hitting in recent years.

Niese, along with Doc Gooden, are the only other pitchers in team history to record a pinch-hit extra base hit. Wheeler has now recorded a double in every season he has pitched in, three in total for his career. The Mets normally look to Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard as their better pitching hitters, but Wheeler now has nine career hits in 86 at bats.

He may not be Madison Bumgarner at the plate, but Terry Collins must've known he had something up his sleeve when he decided to put one of his starting pitchers in the on-deck circle on Friday night.

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