CHICAGO — After mostly being used as a reliever over the past six years with the Reds, Angels right-hander Michael Lorenzen is finally getting his chance to consistently pitch as a starter for the first time since his rookie season in 2015.
And he’s been making the most of it, as he turned in yet another solid outing by throwing 8 1/3 strong innings against the White Sox in a 6-5 win on Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was the longest start of his career, surpassing his previous career high of seven innings. He gave up three runs on nine hits and two walks and improved to 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts this season.
“I felt really good,” Lorenzen said. “I didn’t throw too many stressful pitches the entire game. I was trying to get them to get themselves out on the ground or with weak contact. I might’ve reached back on three pitches. So I feel really good with where I’m at and how I feel going into my next start.”
Lorenzen, who signed a one-year deal worth $6.75 million in the offseason, had a chance for a shutout, as he entered the ninth having thrown eight scoreless innings. But he gave up a two-run double to Leury García on his 100th pitch of the game with one out in the ninth. It knocked Lorenzen from the game and ended his scoreless streak at 14 innings, as he also held the Guardians to six frames without a run on Monday.
“That last inning kinda motivates me for my next start,” Lorenzen said. “It was perfect. Nice little punch in the face to keep me motivated.”
Closer Raisel Iglesias replaced Lorenzen but struggled, allowing three runs, including one charged to Lorenzen. He recorded just one out and exited with the bases loaded after hitting José Abreu with two strikes and two outs. Right-hander Ryan Tepera came in and helped the Angels hang on by getting Gavin Sheets to ground out to first. Tepera said he had to focus on his breathing to calm his nerves but he was happy to help preserve Lorenzen’s win.
“He was impressive,” Tepera said. “Just quick outs. Finding the zone. Mixing pitches. He was spot on today. I wish he could’ve got the CG out there but it’s tough to do. But I tip my cap to him.”
Lorenzen only struck out two hitters but pitched efficiently and let his defense do the work behind him. He escaped a jam in the sixth, when he put two runners on with nobody out but got Abreu to fly out to right and Sheets to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Lorenzen had never pitched more than seven innings in any of his previous 29 career starts but passed that total with a six-pitch eighth inning that saw him retire Tim Anderson and Luis Robert on just two pitches. It allowed him to go back out for the ninth at 91 pitches. And while letting him continue into the ninth didn’t work out, Angels manager Joe Maddon stuck by his decision and was impressed by Lorenzen.
“I really felt strongly about him finishing that thing up,” Maddon said. “He was fine going into the ninth inning and he looked really strong to me. It just didn’t happen. It was tight at the end but I love the fact we held on and won the game. That speaks volumes for us.”
Lorenzen pitched with a lead throughout the afternoon, as superstar Mike Trout homered in the first to put the Angels up early. Trout had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a homer, a double, three walks and three runs scored.
Trout has also liked what he’s seen from Lorenzen this season and said defenders enjoy playing behind him because he pitches at a quick pace.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Trout said. “It’s fun to play behind him. He’s throwing strikes, quick innings. He’s not fooling around. He gets ground balls and double plays. We have a good defense behind him and he just goes out there and competes.”