By Hal McCoy
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while watching and pulling for Michael Lorenzen to pitch his no-hitter (which he did) because he is one of the nicest and more genuine baseball player I ever encountered.
—THE BIBLE AND BASEBALL: It was spring training in 2015 and every morning the first guy in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse was a kid taking part in his first Major League camp and his locker was with a group of minor league pitchers not expected to make the team.
He arrived before anybody, including the clubhouse attendants. He turned on the lights and sat in a folding chair in front of his locker reading the Bible.
His name is Michael Lorenzen, sometimes known as Michael Muscles due to his cantaloupe-sized biceps.
Asked about the Bible-reading, he said, “The Bible and baseball saved my life. And his life did a 180, culminating in a no-hitter Wednesday in his first home start for the Philadelphia Phillies.
On that day, with just me and Lorenzen in the clubhouse, he recounted that he spent a wasted youth, running with the wrong crowd and spending a lot of time at the end of a pier doing drugs.
He said that life-style was rampant in his family. His parents struggled with drugs and alcohol. “The police would show up almost every single weekend because of my parents’ frequent fights,” he said.
When he was 17, on that pier doing drugs, he said he heard about Jesus. “This guy was sharing the gospel with me and the message I heard completely changed my life, transformed my life. It’s been awesome.”
And on those hulking biceps, Lorenzen had a Bible verse tattooed in small print, Gallatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live.”
While at Cal-Fullterton University, he played center field and was the team’s closer if it led in the ninth inning.
He always wanted to be a starter and the Reds briefly gave him that opportunity in 2015 and he was 4-9 with a 5.40 earned run average. The next year they plopped him ito the bullpen, where he stayed for the next six years, 268 appearances.
While with the Reds, he actually started eight games in center field and did some pinch-hitting. And he hit a home run on his deceased father’s birthday.
He left the Reds after the 2021 season and signed a one-year $7 million deal with the Angels because they said he would start. After the 2021 season, he signed a one-year $8.5 million contract with the Detroit Tigers and again was a starter and was named to this year’s All-Star team.
And the Tigers traded him to Philadelphia and the Phillies turn toward Detroit and say, “Amen.”
—WHAT A SCHOOL: This is one for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. . .and believe it, because it is true.
There have been four pitchers from Fullerton Union High School to make it to the majors leagues — Walter Johnson, Steve Busby, Mike Warren and Michael Lorenzen.
And all four have pitched an MLB no-hitter.
To make it even more creeper, catcher Del Crandall graduated from Fullerton Union and he caught three MLB no-hitters.
—ALL IN THE WASH: Michael Lorenzen’s no-hitter against Washington was just another facet of how quickly a major-league team can fall.
The Nationals won the World Series four years ago and now occupy last place in the National League East 23 games behind the Atlanta Braves.
In 2009, the Nationals had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and chose pitcher Stephen Strasburg. In 2020 they signed him to a seven-year $245 million contract. Since he put pen to paper on that contract he has pitched 31 1/3 innings over the last 3 1/2 seasons.
Even so, Lorenzen’s no-hitter was the first time the Nationals had been shut out in 96 games, longest streak in MLB.
—A SONG OF VICTORY: What is that dreadful song Chicago Cubs fans sing as they leave Wrigley Field after a win? “Go, Cubs, Go.”
About a month ago, I issued a warning to the Milwaukee Braves and Cincinnati Reds, “Check over you right shoulders, the Chicago Cubs are coming.”
On July 17, the Cubs lost a game to the Brewers and were 43-50, 8 1/2 games out of first place. Since then they have won 15 of 21 and are 3 1/2 games out of first place.
On their next 15 series, nine are against teams below .500, then their last three of the season are in Milwaukee, where the National League Central championship could be determined.
—THE BIG SWITCH: A while back I wrote a blurb about switch-hitters who have hit home runs from both sides of the plate and was astounded that Nick Swisher did it the most, 14 times.
Another one was accomplished Wednesday against the Reds and went unnoticed.
Miami’s Josh Bell hit an opposite field solo home run batting left-handed against Graham Ashcraft. Then, in the eighth-inning, batting right-handed against Sam Moll, he hit a dead-center three-run home run against Sam Moll to tie the game, 4-4.
Bell, acquired at the trade deadline, is the first Florida/Miami Marlin to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in one game.
—NOT A STRIKE: From Tom Melzoni, my great friend in Sarasota: “You know how baseball players throw the ball into the stands after a win?You can’t do that with a bowling ball. I know that now.”