By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Just call him Babe Lorenzen. Or call him George Herman Lorenzen.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher/outfielder/pinch-hitter/pinch-runner and all-around good guy Michael Lorenzen did something monumental Wednesday night in Great American Ball Park.
He put his name in a place where only Babe Ruth’s name resided before Wednesday.
Lorenzen was the winning pitcher, played center field and hit a home run as the Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-5.
Before Lorenzen, only Babe Ruth ever won a game as a pitcher then played center field in the same game and hit a home run.
Actually, when Ruth did it for the 1921 New York Yankees he hit two home runs. Lorenzen only hit one, but he only had one at bat.
And he had to beg manager David Bell for that opportunity.
Lorenzen pitched the seventh and eighth innings and came to bat in the bottom of the eighth with the Reds leading, 6-5. He wasn’t going to pitch the ninth, but Bell let him hit.
He drove the first pitch he saw over the left center field fence, a two-run home run, his first of the season and seventh of his career.
“Bell wasn’t going to let me hit at first,” said Lorenzen. “I asked him I could hit and he laughed and walked off. Then he came back and told me I was going to hit.”
And hit he did.
“I’m glad I put that little bug in his head,” said Lorenzen. “Babe Ruth? That’s pretty neat and I’m pretty excited about that. It’s a fun stat.
“Now I’m going to have to find out what Babe Ruth’s contract would be worth in today’s game. I’ll take that to the Reds and sit down with executives Nick Krall and Dick Williams and see what we can do,” he said with a laugh.
Bell decided to permit Lorenzen to bat, even though he wouldn’t go back to the mound, because the Phillies had a left handed pitcher on the mound,
“I’ve said this before and I’ve even told him that I’ve underestimated his ability,” said Bell. “It is really incredible what he can do. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“He has the confidence to step in and do it, but the big thing is he keeps working on it, even when he wasn’t getting the opportunities in the middle of the year. We were leaning on him heavily as a pitcher and he wasn’t getting the other opportunities.”
While Babe Ruth makes headlines, this game really was won by a home run hit in the seventh by pinch-hitter Jose Iglesias, sitting out with a rare night off before called upon to help break a 5-5 tie.
He didn’t help break it. He shredded it. He crushed a home run, his first career pinch-hit home run and it was the game-winner. Lorenzen’s was the dessert but Iglesias furnished the protein.
“I got lucky and was able to put a good swing on it,” said Iglesias, dipping a spoon into a container of non-fat apple sauce. “I saw Joey Votto eating some and I tried it. I like it.”
He likes helping his team win and likes watching Babe Lorenzen, too.
“David Bell asked me if I was ready to pinch-hit and I said, ‘Of course I am ready,’” said Iglesias. “To go up there and help the team win is what I am here for.”
Asked about hitting his first career pinch-hit home run, Iglesias said, “It was amazing, especially in a situation like that. A tie game. It just feels right, what it is all about.”
As are all who see Lorenzen’s all-around ability, Iglesias is not surprised.
“Michael is just a great athlete,” said Iglesias. “He does it every single day. He can pitch, he can play defense, he can run the bases. He is a very valuable piece to have on our team, for sure.”
It was The Night of the Pinch-Hit Home Run.
Pinch-hit home runs?
The Phillies hit two and the Reds hit one. But the one hit by Iglesias was the big, big one, a blast in the seventh inning that broke the tie and pushed the Reds to a victory.
Philadelphia’s Logan Morrison and former Reds outfielder Jay Bruce both cranked pinch-hit home runs.
After the Reds constructed an early 5-0 lead, the Phillies scrambled back and Bruce’s home run tied it, 5-5.
That set the scenario for Iglesias, who received a rare day off only to come out of the dugout and deliver the game’s biggest blast.
“What a big home run, a big pinch-hit home run,” said Bell. “He was getting the night off from starting. But he was ready and that was the one opportunity we were looking for to use him. . .off a left hander. He went up there and did it. Michael’s home run was important to add on but Iggy’s home run was the biggest. He loves being up in those spots and it was nice to see him come through like that.”
Lorenzen pitched two innings and gave up Jay Bruce’s pinch-hit home run in the seventh that tied the game, but retired the other six batters he faced.
When Iglesias homered in the seventh, that made Lorenzen the winner, his first win this season, but he finished the game in center field watching Raisel Iglesias pitch a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Reds assaulted and insulted Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola early and often.
They scored five runs in the first two innings against the 12-game winner.
It began with Joey Votto’s 14th home run with one out in the first inning. It continued in the second with four runs.
Brian O’Grady, playing center field when Nick Senzel was scratched, crushed a one-out triple off the center field wall and Trevor Bauer walked.
Josh VanMeter singled home a run, Joey Votto doubled home a run and Aristides Aquino doubled home two more for a 5-0 lead.
The Phillies finally reached Bauer in a big way after four scoreless innings.
A pair of home runs drew the Phillies to within 5-4. The first two came on a home run by pinch-hitter Logan Morrison and the second two on a home run by J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto is one of the stud stars traded away by the Miami Marlins and last winter his name was linked with the Reds. But the Phillies scooped him up and he has contributed 21 homers and 74 RBI to the Philadelphia cause.
The big inning was the end of Bauer’s night. In five innings he gave up four runs, six hits, walked two, struck out six and was torched for two home runs.
The Home Run Infection has crippled Bauer all year. He has given up 30 this season, eight as a member of the Reds that covers 34 innings.
Lorenzen took over in the seventh and a familiar face treated him wrong. Jay Bruce, former No. 1 Reds draft pick and fresh off the injured list, hammered a pinch-hit home run.
Bruce’s 25th home run crashed halfway up a picture window on the batter’s eye, 426 feet from home plate.
Philadelphia’s second pinch-hit home run of the night tied the game, 5-5.
The night for pinch-hitters continued in the bottom of the seventh. Iglesias, batting for Josh VanMeter, drove a 0-and-2 pitch from left hander Jose Alvarez over the center field wall.
It was the 10th home run of the year by Iglesias, his first career pinch-hit homer, and it gave the Reds the lead, 6-5.
Lorenzen then did his thing, turning a tight fit into a collar-loosening three-run lead. Then he trotted into center field to do what The Bambino once did.
“I really wanted to get at least one home run this year, so that took a little pressure off my shoulders,” said Lorenzen. “I gave up that home run to Jay Bruce and it was extremely frustrating. Thankfully Jose Iglesias, who has been doing it all year, hit the home run to get the lead back.”