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Lorenzen smashes second homer this week

MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Michael Lorenzen has made the most of his opportunities at the plate as a relief pitcher this season. Lorenzen clubbed his second home run of the year off Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson in the sixth inning of Thursday's game to put the Reds on the board and cut Milwaukee's lead in half at 2-1. It turned out to be the only offense the team could put together through eight innings in an 8-2 loss to the first-place Brewers.

It was the second hit of the night for the Reds, and Lorenzen's fourth career home run. Anderson showed Lorenzen a little bit of everything in the at-bat, throwing a pair of curveballs, two fastballs and a changeup as Lorenzen fouled a couple pitches off and worked 2-2 count. A third fastball came in at 94 mph and right down the heart of the plate, and Lorenzen hammered it into the left-field seats.

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CINCINNATI -- Michael Lorenzen has made the most of his opportunities at the plate as a relief pitcher this season. Lorenzen clubbed his second home run of the year off Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson in the sixth inning of Thursday's game to put the Reds on the board and cut Milwaukee's lead in half at 2-1. It turned out to be the only offense the team could put together through eight innings in an 8-2 loss to the first-place Brewers.

It was the second hit of the night for the Reds, and Lorenzen's fourth career home run. Anderson showed Lorenzen a little bit of everything in the at-bat, throwing a pair of curveballs, two fastballs and a changeup as Lorenzen fouled a couple pitches off and worked 2-2 count. A third fastball came in at 94 mph and right down the heart of the plate, and Lorenzen hammered it into the left-field seats.

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Arms That Hammer Sweepstakes

"Yeah, he really threw me everything," Lorenzen said. "I was just trying to get a fastball to be able to drive somewhere."

The ball traveled a projected 384 feet and had an exit velocity of 106 mph, according to Statcast™. Lorenzen knew he hit it well enough, but was not sure it was high enough to clear the wall. It was Lorenzen's first at-bat after relieving Cincinnati starter Sal Romano to begin the sixth inning.

Lorenzen has three hits in five at-bats this season, and has drawn one walk. The right-hander is also no stranger to hard contact. In a pinch-hit situation in the fifth inning against the Rockies on June 7, Lorenzen ripped a 2-0 fastball to left field for a single that came off the bat at 115 mph, according to Statcast™. It was the hardest-hit ball by any Reds player since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. It is also the hardest-hit ball ever recorded by a Major League pitcher.

Video: COL@CIN: Lorenzen sets Reds' mark with 116.5-mph hit

"I am just out there playing the game," Lorenzen said. "That is all I am trying to do. I am not trying anything more than that. I grew up as a baseball player loving the game of baseball, and working hard at every aspect of it."

The home run was his 15th career Major League hit in 58 at-bats, raising his career average to .259. Lorenzen's last home run came in a pinch-hit spot on June 24 in an 8-6 win over the Cubs. His prowess at the plate has given interim manager Jim Riggleman some flexibility when managing his bench in games.

Video: CHC@CIN: Pitcher Lorenzen drills 3rd career home run

"I think it is good to have as a backup plan for Riggleman," Lorenzen said. "I think with him, it gives him more leeway not to burn a position player. It is the same with everything. I am just playing the game of baseball. You tell me what to do, and I am going to do it."

Lorenzen is just the third pitcher to since 1960 to pitch in at least 10 games and hit two home runs in a season without starting a game. Brooks Kieschnick, an outfielder converted to a relief pitcher, hit seven home runs for the Brewers in 2003, while also registering 42 relief appearances. Kieschnick was primarily a reliever for Milwaukee, but was used sparingly in the outfield as well. Ken Tatum hit a pair for the California Angels in '69, and Freddie Green also hit two for the Pirates in '60.

As Lorenzen rounded home plate, he pointed up into the stands to his wife, Cassi, as it was her birthday on Friday, with Lorenzen providing quite the gift.

Brian Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds, Michael Lorenzen