Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen joined the fraternity of pitchers that hit pinch-hit home runs
We may only be in the first week of the season, but we've already seen plenty of pitchers-hitting-home-run history. First, Madison Bumgarner continued his push to join the Home Run Derby with two home runs on Opening Night, becoming the first pitcher ever to homer to start the season.
On Thursday, Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen was called on to enter the game in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Reds' 7-4 victory over the Phillies. That's not so odd; relievers are called on in the middle of games all the time. However, manager Bryan Price had him come in to bat as a pinch-hitter. The lanky right-hander then blasted a home run to give the Reds a 5-4 lead.
Not only was it Lorenzen's second Major League home run in only his last three at-bats (he hit an emotional home run as a reliever after being activated from the bereavement list last year), but it was the first pinch-hit home run by a pitcher since Micah Owings pulled it off in 2009.
Of course, if we decided to count Spring Training stats, the wait wouldn't be quite so long. Travis Wood homered for the Cubs in 2015:
That the wait has been so long is somewhat surprising.
Though it's a small sample, the three active pitchers with the most home runs (Bumgarner, Wood and Yovani Gallardo) have a combined 30 pinch-hitting appearances without a dinger. Mike Hampton and Carlos Zambrano, two of the best-hitting pitchers in recent memory, also weren't any better. Those two combined for 41 plate appearances without a long ball.
Thanks to his dinger, Lorenzen is already a fourth of the way to the pitchers-as-pinch-hitters home run record. That's right -- while Red Lucas holds the record for most pinch-hits by a pitcher with a whopping 114, White Sox and Red Sox pitcher Gary Peters holds the all-time record with four home runs.
So if you needed a reason to get excited every time the Reds call for a pinch-hitter, well, there's your rooting interest.