Using one of second baseman Dee Gordon's bats, Chen slapped a 2-2 Zack Wheeler fastball past the mound. Cabrera tried to make a barehanded play, but couldn't come up with the ball, and the skid was over.
"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 maybe Ichiro [Suzuki] was sitting besides me. Maybe he brought me the aura of the hit."
The 51 hitless at-bats made up the fourth-longest streak to start a career among players who debuted in 1900 or later, according to Elias.
Jon Lester holds the MLB mark of 66 straight at-bats without a hit, followed by Joey Hamilton (57), Ron Herbel (55) and Chen (51).
The Marlins signed Chen prior to the 2016 season for his pitching, not hitting. The lefty was superb, allowing one run in six innings. He broke in with the Orioles in 2012, and didn't get many chances to hit.
With the Marlins in 2016, Chen was 0-for-44, but had one game where he had a hit taken away due to an official scoring change.
Chen was taking no chances on Friday, and after hustling to first, he turned to first base coach Perry Hill, nicknamed Bone.
"I wasn't sure what was going on there," Chen said. "Maybe it was an error. Bone told me it was a hit. I was really excited, even though I didn't know what was going on there."
It wasn't a hit that registered much in terms of clout. Per Statcast™, the exit velocity was 65 mph, and the hit probability was 14 percent. Because it was a grounder, there was a negative launch angle of 51 degrees. But in the box score it goes down as a single, and the ball was tossed to the Marlins' dugout for Chen to commemorate the occasion.
Gordon had a closeup view of Chen's hit, standing on-deck.
Even though Chen used one of Gordon's bats the Miami second baseman pointed out the 31-year-old pitcher used said bat to swing.
"When we first got here this year, he was like, 'I want to use your bat,' " Gordon said. "I was like, 'Cool.' I always let pitchers use my bats. I got the 'little guy' bats."
Chen entered the game hitless in 50 at-bats, and he struck out looking in the second inning.