The poetry of baseball is hard to comprehend sometimes.
The Phillies’ last no-hitter was thrown by Cole Hamels on July 25, 2015. Hamels was traded by the Phillies to Texas less than a week later. He never threw another pitch as a Phillie.
Then, eight years and two weeks later, Michael Lorenzen threw the next Phillies no-hitter, in a 7-0 win over Washington on Wednesday. It came a little over a week after he’d been traded to the Phillies. And this was his first start in Philadelphia after that trade.
Baseball. Always amazing.
Welcome to Citizens Bank Park, Michael Lorenzen pic.twitter.com/4PpNBAiXky
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 10, 2023
The Lorenzen Express
Once upon a time, long before he threw a baseball in Philadelphia, long before he was even a starting pitcher in the big leagues, Michael Lorenzen saw this night in his dreams.
“I’ve watched every single one of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters,” he told NBC Sports Philadelphia during the postgame Phillies TV broadcast, “because I’ve always wanted to throw a no-hitter. And the fact that I just did it in front of this fan base, I can’t believe it.”
But before this night, Lorenzen’s dream had never come close to coming true.
• He’d never thrown a complete game in the major leagues.
• Only once had he gotten an out in the ninth inning of a big-league start (May 1, 2022, as an Angel).
• His longest scoreless start was seven innings, less than three weeks earlier — a July 20 start for the Tigers in which he gave up three hits in Kansas City.
And then, in the first game in Philadelphia as a Phillie, he pitched a no-hitter.
Other things you should know
Michael Lorenzen, All-Star — How many players who played in this year’s All-Star Game were traded at this trade deadline? Exactly one. Michael Lorenzen. And two starts later, he threw a no-hitter.
Michael Lorenzen, best pitcher in baseball — It’s no secret that the season didn’t start in July. It started in March. But since July 1, who has the lowest ERA of any starter in baseball? Yup. Michael Lorenzen.
His ERA in six starts since the beginning of July: 1.11. That lands him just ahead of the Padres’ Blake Snell, whose ERA in that span is 1.22 (minimum 30 innings).
Dealt at the deadline — Since the trading deadline was moved to late July in 1986, only one other pitcher has changed teams at the deadline and then thrown a no-hitter for his new team. That was (who else) Mike Fiers.
Fiers was traded by the Brewers to the Astros at the 2015 deadline. He then no-hit the Dodgers in his fourth start as an Astro.
Buy this man a cheesesteak — How rare is it for any pitcher to twirl a no-hitter in his first start at home for any franchise? Maybe this will sum that up:
Lorenzen was just the second to do it in the last 125 years. And he’s the first in more than six decades.
According to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, via the Elias Sports Bureau, only four pitchers besides Lorenzen have pitched a no-hitter in their first start at home with a team:
• Don Cardwell, Cubs: May 15, 1960
• Jay Hughes, Orioles: April 22, 1898
• Bumpus Jones, Reds: Oct. 15, 1892
• Ed Cushman, Milwaukee Cream Citys: Sept. 28, 1884
The Nationals — They’re in last place. They have their issues. But one thing they didn’t seem to be was a prime candidate to be no-hit.
They hadn’t been shut out since April! Only two teams — the Braves (two) and Diamondbacks (three) had been shut out fewer times this season than the Nationals (four, before this game). And as The Athletic’s David Aldridge mentioned, they’d never been no-hit once in their 19 seasons in Washington.
Also, entering this game, just five teams in the majors had a higher team batting average this season than the Nationals (.259).
In this game — The Nationals hit three balls with greater than a 50 percent hit probability, according to Statcast — all of them in the last three innings. Keibert Ruiz and Ildemaro Vargas grounded out in the seventh, on two hard-hit balls that each had a hit probability of .510. Then Alex Call lined out in the eighth, on a ball that had a .590 hit probability.
Lorenzen admitted that he needed his defense, though. He got 15 fly-ball outs. And his four strikeouts were the fewest by any pitcher in a complete-game no-hitter in a decade — since Henderson Alvarez also struck out four, in a no-hitter for the Marlins on the final day of the 2013 season.
And Lorenzen’s 124 pitches were by far a career high. His previous high was 107 — more than eight years ago (April 29, 2015). He’d surpassed that pitch total before the end of the eighth inning (with 110).
The manager — Phillies manager Rob Thomson told reporters afterward that this was the first time in his life that he’d ever been on the winning side of a no-hitter.
“The first in my entire college career, my early (pro) career, major-league career,” he said.
But Thomson also said he was way too close to taking Lorenzen out of this game.
“After the seventh (inning), I went down the tunnel,” Thomson said. “I asked him, ‘How are you doing?’ And he said, because he was at 100 pitches (through) seven. He said, ‘I’m good.’ And I asked him, ‘Are you strong?’ He said, ‘I’m strong. I’m good.’ I said, ‘All right, I’m giving you 20 pitches. And that’s it.’ So I said, ‘You’d better get quick outs.’ And he did. He said, ‘I will.’ And he did. So. It was great, fantastic moment.”
Michael Lorenzen, Caleb Cotham begin Phillies pitching partnership with comfort, trust
(Top photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)