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Michael Lorenzen Is The Best Kind Of Welcome-To-Philly Story

A photo of Michael Lorenzen pointing to the sky after he pitched a no hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There is an understandable pleasure in watching a pitcher throw a Maddux, but something even more wonderful in the slow grind, and Michael Lorenzen's no-hitter was a grind. By the end of the seventh inning, he'd already thrown 100 pitches, in which case the average spectator would naturally think that there was no way he was going back out there—and then Rob Thomson sent him back out there anyway. Lorenzen made the most of the chance he was given. He totaled 124 pitches, a career high, and still managed to hit 95 miles per hour on his fastball in the ninth. He had nearly as many walks as strikeouts, so he had to face the top of the lineup four times rather than three, and he still got the no-hitter. All while wearing white Vans!

I'm an optimist going into games—if the pitcher makes it through the first inning without giving up a hit, then a no-hitter's on the cards. It's only when the pitcher makes it through five innings that I start turning into a pessimist—give me the time to think too much about it, as 124 pitches allows, and every play becomes a probable hit. That's maybe the least hopeful and most stressful way to watch a no-hitter, but on the other hand, it turns the most mundane plays into miniature miracles. There's no need for a Dewayne Wise–esque catch. In games like these, a routine fly-ball out becomes a game-saving play, and Lorenzen's teammates made 15 of those. Then there are the other plays: The final out of the seventh inning was a choppy ground ball cleanly fielded by Rodolfo Castro that easily could have gotten past him for a single. The second out of the eighth was a hard-hit line drive, but centerfielder Johan Rojas was there with time to spare.

It's a reminder that while an individual no-hitter is in thanks to a remarkable pitcher, it's also a team accomplishment. Brandon Marsh out with injury? No matter—Rojas did a more than competent job in center field. Thanks to the Phillies' offense racking up three runs in the first inning and never looking back, there was no question about whether the Phillies would win the game, only how they would win it; the first-inning rally including a lead-off single by Trea Turner, who has been slashing .391/.417/.696 since being newly revitalized by the power of friendship.

Lorenzen spent most of his early career in Cincinnati before signing a one-year contract with the Angels in 2022 as part of their Sisyphean fill out the starting rotation mission. Then he started 2023 on a one-year contract with the Tigers, became an All-Star, and got traded to the Phillies at the deadline. At 31, that means he's on the verge of being called a journeyman. But it's never a qualifier in team histories either, even if "Phillies legend Michael Lorenzen" doesn't quite roll off the tongue. It's just part of the lore: Lorenzen made his home debut in Philly, with his family in the crowd, and threw a no-hitter in his second-ever start with the team.

The same goes for Weston Wilson, who was in the Brewers' system before he signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies this year. When he got called up for this game, he'd spent seven years and 706 games in the minor leagues. Then he hit his first MLB home run in his first MLB at-bat at age 28 and, to get his money's worth, proceeded to get a walk in each plate appearance after that, giving him the always wonderful sample-size-inflated OPS of 5.000 in the first Phillies no-hitter since 2015.

So here's a trade-deadline and free-agency story that doesn't feel miserable, where a player can be uprooted and make it work wherever they end up. The gratitude of baseball fans—this is also where someone might add the specific qualifier of Philly sports fans—can be capricious and ephemeral, to say the least. But no matter how their next games go or where they play next, Wilson will always have gotten his first home run here and Lorenzen always will have given 124 damn pitches, a no-hitter, and Brandon Marsh's hair routine. And these two players who happened by chance to end up in Philly for the same game will find their names mentioned in the same breath. As Thomson said after the game: Welcome to Philadelphia, buddy. And thanks for the reverse welcome gift.

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