Realmuto had time. He lost a chunk of skin on the palm of his right hand when he slid into second base on Monday. He could not hit or play the next two nights, so he studied. He watched every at-bat of Lorenzen’s last five or six starts with the Tigers. He got a feel for what he likes to do in certain counts and situations. He learned where he might get swings and misses with certain pitches.
“That definitely helped today,” Realmuto said after Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Marlins at loanDepot park. “There were multiple times I was able to look back on one of his past starts and remember how he pitched.”
Lorenzen allowed six hits and two runs in a season-high eight innings in his Phillies’ debut. It was the first time a Phillies pitcher threw eight or more innings in his debut since Cliff Lee tossed a four-hit complete game in San Francisco on July 31, 2009.
Lee was a massive pickup at the 2009 Trade Deadline, helping the Phillies return to the World Series. Perhaps Lorenzen can do the same.
“I see why they did what they did last year, for sure,” Lorenzen said. “It’d be fun to make another run.”
Lorenzen worked efficiently from the jump, putting his faith in every pitch that Realmuto called.
“I didn’t shake once,” Lorenzen said.
“No,” he said.
Lorenzen has put more faith in his catchers this season because he believes it is better not to multi-task and think about the next pitch to throw.
“Being fully bought into just making a pitch, and that’s it,” he said. “Just simplify it.”
“He’s a lot of fun to catch,” Realmuto said. “He can do so many things. I had faith in him. Anything that I called, I felt like he was going to execute it.”
The Phillies needed this. They played the third-longest game of the season on Wednesday night, a 4-hour, 6-minute affair that ended with a crushing 9-8 loss in 12 innings. The Phillies used relievers they did not want to use Wednesday, so they wanted to stay away from a few more Thursday.
Craig Kimbrel could not pitch, after being pressed into action in the 10th inning Wednesday. They also wanted to stay away from Gregory Soto, Jeff Hoffman and Matt Strahm, leaving them with Seranthony Domínguez, Yunior Marte and Dylan Covey.
So when Lorezen finished the seventh at 93 pitches, Phillies manager Rob Thomson asked him if he could continue.
“I’m good,” Lorenzen said.
“Are you strong?” Thomson said.
“Yeah, I’m strong,” Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen pitched the eighth. He needed eight pitches to finish it.
“I was pretty stoked when he asked me how I was feeling after the seventh,” Lorenzen said. “I was happy about it. I mean, I didn’t know the extent of the bullpen situation. I just knew he asked me if I felt alright in the seventh. I was like, ‘Heck, yeah.’”
Realmuto crushed a two-run home run in the second to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Brandon’s Marsh’s two-run single in the seventh made it 4-1.
“To be honest, the first time I took a swing with two hands in the last three days was in the game,” Realmuto said. “Even today, all day in batting practice, I didn’t swing very much because I didn’t want to irritate [his hand]. Every swing I took was one-handed, letting go of the bat early because I didn’t want to feel it. I guess in the game the adrenaline took over and I swung two-handed.”
Sometimes things work out. The Phillies won two of three last week at home against Baltimore, then lost two of three over the weekend in Pittsburgh. They rebounded. They won three of four against the Marlins, who are chasing the Phillies for a NL Wild Card. They rebounded from Wednesday’s brutal loss, which had Trea Turner hitting in the batting cage until midnight and Thomson wondering if another break for Turner -- perhaps a longer one -- might help at some point.
“I don’t know when that time is,” Thomson said. “I don’t know the answer to that. Does that mess a guy up even more? Basically, I just go off his response to me, how he’s doing. Sometimes I guess you’ve got to take it out of the guy’s hands, but when is that time?”
It was not Thursday. It was not needed. Lorenzen arrived to help the rotation and he delivered.
“He came as advertised,” Thomson said. “Just incredible.”