Michael Lorenzen didn’t believe the news when he first heard he made the All-Star team this summer.
“This is fishy,” he told Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press. “There is no way I made the All-Star Game, like there is absolutely no way.”
Lorenzen wasn’t just being humble. When the All-Star rosters were announced, he had a 4.28 ERA through his first 14 games. That’s a respectable number, especially for a pitcher averaging nearly six innings per start, but it’s unusual to see anyone with an ERA that high in the Midsummer Classic.
However, there’s a simple explanation. Lorenzen didn’t make the team on his own merit. He was chosen by the commissioner’s office after no Tigers players were elected on the fan or player ballots. The team needed a rep, and Lorenzen got the nod. It happens every year – less-than-deserving players make the squad because every team is guaranteed at least one representative.
Funnily enough, the Phillies have added an All-Star starting pitcher at the trade deadline in all three seasons of Dave Dombrowski’s tenure at the helm. Yet every year, there has been an asterisk next to that designation.
Last season, it was Noah Syndergaard. Once a superstar in the making, his career has been derailed by injury; when he came to Philadelphia in 2022, he was a shadow of his former self. The year before, it was Kyle Gibson, a veteran back-end starter who earned an All-Star nod thanks to an unsustainable red-hot start.
Each year, the headlines have bragged about the Phillies’ latest All-Star acquisition. Each year, the fanbase prepares for disappointment, knowing the pitcher they’re about to watch won’t live up to his All-Star billing.
But this time around? Things might be a little different.
Over his final four starts with the Tigers, Lorenzen gave up just three earned runs in 23.2 innings of work. In his first game with the Phillies, he went eight and allowed only two. He brought his ERA down to 3.48. All of a sudden, he was pitching like a bona fide All-Star.
Then, on Wednesday, August 9, Michael Lorenzen delivered the defining performance of his career. Nine innings. 124 pitches. Zero runs. Zero hits.
As Dom Smith flew out to end the ballgame, Lorenzen completed the 322nd no-hitter in MLB history. That might sound like a big number out of context, but believe me, it’s anything but. The MLB season comprises 2,430 games – a little over 400 per month. This year, the 322nd game took place on April 23.
You could plug every no-hitter in MLB history into the calendar and you wouldn’t even reach Arbor Day.
With two months to go in the season, 786 players have thrown a pitch for a big league ball club. That’s more than three times as many pitchers who have ever thrown a no-hitter. Only 19 active pitchers have tossed a no-no; the Phillies have used 23 different pitchers this season.
And the fun facts just keep on coming.
This was the fourth no-hitter of the season, but the first against an NL team since the Astros no-hit the Phillies in the 2022 World Series. It was the first no-hitter by an NL team since the Mets’ combined effort against the Phillies last April.
The Phillies have had 21 no-hitters thrown against them, more than any other team in history. It must feel nice to be on the winning side for a change.
The last no-hitter by a Phillies pitcher came in 2015, when Cole Hamels twirled a gem in his final start with the club. Lorenzen’s effort was a fitting tribute to Hamels, who announced his retirement just last week.
Meanwhile, the last no-hitter by a Phillies pitcher at Citizens Bank Park was Roy Halladay’s NLDS no-no in 2010.
It’s funny, both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler had brushes with no-hitters earlier this season; Nola carried a no-hit bid into the seventh, while Wheeler took his into the eighth. It would have been fitting for either of those two pitchers to carry on the legacy of Hamels and Halladay.
But sometimes, the best moments are the ones you don’t expect. Nothing is fitting about Lorenzen tossing a no-hitter for the Phillies. Nothing at all. A couple weeks ago, I bet half the fanbase didn’t even know his name. Yet in a way, that makes this all the more exciting.
Before last night, Lorenzen had made just one career start at Citizens Bank Park. It was 2022, and he was playing for the L.A. Angels. He went 5.2 innings, giving up five hits, five walks, and five earned runs as the Phillies trounced the Angels 7-2.
Suffice it to say, his second start at the stadium makes for a much nicer story.
To make things even better, Lorenzen wasn’t the only story of the day. J.T. Realmuto caught his second no-hitter; the first came with the Marlins in 2017, when Edinson Volquez no-hit the Diamondbacks on 98 pitches. (Funnily enough, Volquez was also the losing pitcher in Halladay’s postseason no-no against the Reds.)
Only 18 catchers have caught three or more no-hitters. Among active players, only Martín Maldonado has accomplished the feat. Realmuto is inching closer to that exclusive club.
On the other side of the ball, Nick Castellanos hit two home runs, the 199th and 200th of his career. His son Liam was running all over the ballpark in celebration of the day’s events. To anyone watching the Phillies’ broadcast, he was as much a part of the game as any player on the field.
And then, of course, there was Weston Wilson. The 28-year-old rookie hit a home run in his first MLB plate appearance, more than seven years after the Brewers took him in the 17th round of the 2016 draft.
His family, watching from the stands, all rose to their feet. It’s the kind of moment you can watch over and over, relishing in vicarious excitement.
For the first six or seven innings, Wilson was the star of the day. Of course he was! How could anyone have known we were about to witness an even more remarkable achievement?
Once a no-hitter has happened, it becomes the focal point of the entire game. Yet until it happens, it isn’t there at all. An uncanny feeling washed over me as I went back to re-watch the game this morning. As I saw Lorenzen record out after out, I knew I was watching something special, but that special thing did not yet exist.
Conversely, Wilson’s home run was thrilling from the moment it happened. There’s no slow build with a long ball. Thus, things worked out sort of perfectly. Wilson was the star of the game until the final out – then it was Lorenzen’s turn to bask in the glory. Each man had his moment.
Philadelphia fans aren’t nearly as ruthless as the stereotypes would have you believe. Just look at the standing ovation Trea Turner received from the CBP crowd in the midst of his disappointing slump.
Still, it’s always nice to make a strong first impression, and that’s precisely what Michael Lorenzen (and Wes Wilson!) did.