A Wednesday night crowd of over 30,000 at Citizens Bank Park rose in unison when Michael Lorenzen walked up the dugout steps to take the mound in the ninth inning.
He was at 111 pitches. Managers rarely extend their starters so far these days, even when potential history is within reach.
"That was the coolest moment of my baseball career, going out there for the ninth," Lorenzen said. "Just walking out of the dugout and hearing the fans go wild, it gave me the chills. It gave me that boost of energy that I needed for sure."
It took him 12 pitches to finish the job. One, two, three went the Nationals as Lorenzen polished off the 14th no-hitter in Phillies history, first since 2015 and fourth in the majors this season. The only other no-no by a Phillie at Citizens Bank Park was Roy Halladay’s in the 2010 playoffs.
The Phillies won, 7-0, on a dramatic night at the ballpark. Lorenzen became the first pitcher in 63 years to throw a no-hitter in his home debut with his new team. Weston Wilson, a 28-year-old with more than 2,800 minor-league plate appearances, homered in his first major-league at-bat. Nick Castellanos homered twice to reach 200 for his career.
“Oh my god,” Castellanos said, “it was a great game.”
Everything needed to go right for Lorenzen to do what he did, as is typically the case in a no-hitter. He was at 100 pitches through seven innings. Manager Rob Thomson told him he had 20 left. Lorenzen was efficient enough in an 11-pitch eighth to put himself in play for the ninth. He went full to the final hitter of the game, Dom Smith, and at 123 pitches that might’ve been his final hitter either way. Thomson joked that he’d have had to wear a bulletproof vest out to the mound to remove him.
“I said you’d better get quick outs,” Thomson relayed. “He said I will. And he did.”
If there’s anyone to expect pitch economy from, it’s Lorenzen, who has averaged nearly 2.5 fewer pitches per inning since May 1 than the league average.
He benefitted from several atom balls at outfielders. He recorded 12 outs in the air, nine to center fielder Johan Rojas, who glided around catching everything.
The schedule also played into the favor of this magical moment. The Phillies are off next Monday and Thursday before and after a two-game series in Toronto, so they were going to skip or give extra rest to at least one member of their six-man rotation. Lorenzen won’t pitch for eight days, Thomson said postgame.
“It’s unbelievable, to be honest,” Lorenzen said. “I’ve always dreamt about being able to throw a no-hitter and to have that opportunity. Skip gave me that opportunity to throw 120-plus pitches. Man, it was incredible.”
For the second straight start, Lorenzen didn’t shake off his new battery mate, J.T. Realmuto. If he did Wednesday night, it was just to disguise a pitch, he said.
Lorenzen also made an adjustment with pitching coach Caleb Cotham, his former coach in Cincinnati.
“I mean, I really didn’t have great stuff,” Lorenzen said. “I will say we made an adjustment, Caleb helped me with the changeup, showed me a grip from back in 2019. My grip for the past two years was different and I didn’t even realize it, so we went back to that grip and the changeup played really well for me tonight.”
This has been a career year for the 31-year-old right-hander. He started in 2015, spent 2016-21 as a reliever, then made 18 starts for the 2022 Angels with a 4.24 ERA. The Phillies were interested in Lorenzen over the offseason but he wanted a guaranteed starting role and found it with the Tigers. He signed a one-year contract worth $8.5 million so he’s a free agent after the season.
In his final 15 starts with Detroit, Lorenzen had a 3.04 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He has really hit his stride as a contact-based strike thrower with a simple delivery and repertoire that can keep teams, especially young teams like the Nationals, off balance.
The Phillies acquired him the day of the trade deadline for Hao-Yu Lee, a second base prospect they wanted to keep. Lorenzen was too appealing for Dave Dombrowski to not pull the trigger. The Phillies had him high on their deadline wish list because he was one of the few available starters capable of working in high-leverage relief in October if need be.
Players in the Phillies’ clubhouse gave Dombrowski a rousing ovation when he entered postgame. “Great trade!” and “Good decision!” were shouted by veterans in the back corner.
Minutes later, Castellanos stood toward the front of the clubhouse with his 10-year-old son, Liam, reflecting on the baseball history they’ve both had the chance to witness up close. Castellanos talked to a group of reporters about everything from his past with Lorenzen to Wilson’s introduction to his own milestone to the fan support Trea Turner has received at home this week. Castellanos commented that Turner will be in Philly for so long (11 years) that Liam will be old enough to have a drink with dad at the bar by the end of that contract.
Emotions were high in South Philly. Lorenzen’s wife, mother and nine-month-old were in attendance. Mom probably would have been back home in Southern California if it wasn’t his debut with his new team. Wilson’s family was in the house as well. On any other night, their son’s night would have been front and center.
“It’s incredible. I’ve seen a lot of things, but during this entire homestand there’s been so many storylines,” Thomson said, playing the role of sportswriter. “The Trea thing, the standing ovation, the no-hitter tonight, Weston Wilson coming up. Baseball is a wonderful game and there are so many magical moments. When you can do it front of your home fans like this week — because our fans are just off the charts passionate — it makes you just love the game.”