By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — For the most part, the game was decided, wrapped and bagged, especially because Michael Lorenzen was walking to the Great American Ball Park mound.
Michael Lorenzen does not blow five-run leads and he did not blow this one, an eventual 9-2 Cincinnati Reds victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The story, though, was Lorenzen. His appearance was dripping with emotion. He was gone most of the week on bereavement in California after the death of his father, “The guy who took me to all my games when I was a kid.”
BATTLING TEARS ALL NIGHT, Lorenzen pitched 1 2/3 innings late in the game and gave up no runs and two hits. The real heart-tugger, though, was when Lorenzen came to bat in the seventh inning with the team leading 6-1 and two men on base. Lorenzen lashed a three-run home run.
When he reached the dugout, the fans demanded a curtain call and he gave it, waving his cap to the crowd.
“That was something I just praise God for,” said Lorenzen, a deeply religious man. “Something like that happening, the pitching and the home run, is something special not only for me, but my family and everyone who has supported us. I just want to say thank you for all the prayers. People have reached out and it has humbled me. Everything that happened to me, I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way again.”
OF HIS CURTAIN CALL AFTER the home run, Lorenzen said, “I had one once in Double-A when I hit a grand slam. But I think this curtain call was a little more special. I’m just humbled by everything. My family needed that.”
Before he batted, his walk-up song blared over the public address system, The Who’s song, ‘Who Are You, Who-Who, Who-Who?”
Said Lorenzen, “My dad was a Who fanatic. He took me to a Who concert. He said I throw so hard because I used to play the drums on the floor to Who songs. That was one of his favorite stories. I have been listening to The Who for the last two days just to have good memories when I was real young and he was around.”
Lorenzen’s father, though, left the family when Michael was in elementary school.
His teammates greeted him in the dugout after the home run with hugs and back-pounding and Lorenzen said, “It meant everything. These are my brothers here and everyone has been so good with me. Ramon Cabrera was waiting for me to give me a big hug and it was so nice just to give somebody a hug.”
So how was he able to go back and pitch the eighth after the emotional home run? “All things through Christ, He gives me strength,” he said. “This was one of those nights where I needed his strength. Even after the third out of my first inning (before the home run) I had to go back into the bathroom because I broke down and some teammates came back to help me out and I was able to hit.”
MEANWHILE, EARLIER IN THE game, way earlier, Dodgers starting pitcher Bud Norris didn’t like the Great American Ball Park mound and before he threw his first pitch he had the grounds crew scurrying around, tamping the dirt.
It didn’t work. If he didn’t like it before he pitched, he hated it by the time he retired his first Reds batter. When that happened, when he finally got Scott Schebler to pop to left, the first five Reds already had reached bases, four on hits, including Joey Votto’s three-run home run.
It launched the Reds and pitcher Tim Adleman to the 9-2 virtory over the Dodgers, who led the National League West by a half-game when the night began. And it pushed the Reds’ record to 20-and-12 since the All-Star break.
It was a peculiar way for the Reds to win their first game against the Dodgers after losing their last nine, but it worked.
Adleman uttered no complaints about the mound, but maybe should have. For five innings he was in more peril than Pauline, runners strewing the bases in every inning, but he kept pitching around the problems. Center fielder Billy Hamilton had his back against the wall twice to make catches and left fielder Tony Renda scraped the wall with his back once making a catch as the Dodgers stranded eight runners in the first five innings and were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
No matter how ugly it looked, Adleman left after five innings and gave up no runs, five hits, three walks and hit two batters and owes his defense some New York strip steak dinners and a nice bottle of cabernet.
“I didn’t do a great job of geting quick outs tonight but we won the game,” said Adleman. “A lot of success tonight had to do with the defense. Tony Renda crashing into walls, Billy Hamilton using every inch of the park to reel in a couple of fly balls.”
Norris issued no complaints about the batter’s box and showed it by banging a single to lead the third inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases with two outs but Ardian Gonzalez flied to left.
Adleman had no issues with the batter’s box, either. In the fourth inning he drove a two-out, two-run double up the right field gap, his first career hit and his first career RBI to give himself a 5-0 lead. The Dodgers had walked Tucker Barnhart intentionally to get to Adleman and he jabbed a hat pin into that strategy.
“That hit felt great, any way you can contribute is a good feeling. When the team wins and you do your part, it’s nice.
After Adleman’s double, Norris walked Billy Hamillton, gave up a single to Ivan DeJesus Jr., to fill the bases and walked Joey Votton on a full count, forcing in a run and give Votto four RBI for the night. Norris was removed and presumably headed straight for the Complaint Desk in GABP.
Adleman had no complaints. “I didn’t notice anything. Maybe I throw from a different side. And maybe I also could have been the reason he thought it was screwed up. I got to it before he did. But it seemed normal to me.”