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Angels’ Michael Lorenzen, Chad Wallach add new chapter to their long story

OAKLAND, Calif. — It was Chad Wallach who hit his first career home run against Michael Lorenzen back in 2018. But it’s Lorenzen who likes to jokingly remind his longtime friend and three-time teammate about the feat.

Lorenzen and Wallach go way back. Their baseball careers are intertwined in a serendipitous way. They played against each other in high school and travel ball. They were in the same recruiting class at Cal State Fullerton, where they played three years together. They were teammates in the majors with the Reds.

And when they weren’t teammates, Wallach took his friend out of the ballpark.

“To be honest with you, it was very enjoyable,” Wallach said of his homer. “It’s pretty cool. I can kind of hold that over him for the rest of our lives.”

They made a new memory and chapter in their friendship Saturday, this time with the Angels. Wallach caught Lorenzen as a starting pitcher for the first time. Lorenzen threw seven innings and allowed one run. He struck out three and walked one. It was among his best performances this season.

His batterymate was someone he’s done pretty much everything with and played with all across the country. But Wallach had never caught one of Lorenzen’s starts at any level until a 9-1 win Saturday.

“The first start that he’s caught me and he was unbelievable back there,” Lorenzen said. “We were on the same page the entire time.”

Lorenzen and Wallach work out together during the offseason. They’re both from the Anaheim area. When they were in college, they lived together for a semester. When they weren’t on the same team, they kept in touch, texting with each other.

They’ve come together for this stage of their friendship at an opportune time. Lorenzen is finally resuming his career-long goal of starting games. He’s done so effectively and become a staple in the rotation.

Wallach was added to the roster from the taxi squad when Kurt Suzuki went on the COVID-19 injured list. But he’s been very solid since getting that chance, catching Reid Detmers’ no-hitter and Chase Silseth’s electric MLB debut.

He’s shown power at the plate. Compliments have come from manager Joe Maddon and general manager Perry Minasian, who both acknowledged that Wallace could stick on the roster even when the other catchers are healthy.

“He’s played really well,” Maddon said. “I’m here to tell you that’s a big-league catcher. That is not a Triple-A guy.”

As for Wallach’s home run off Lorenzen, both players remember it vividly. But they tell it from different perspectives. It was Sept. 23, 2018. Lorenzen’s Reds and Wallach’s Marlins were out of it. Wallach recalls just being called back up and that it was a big at-bat against a hittable pitch.

Lorenzen was more playfully salty remembering the day.

“Freaking Chad,” he said.

The Reds let Lorenzen start three games toward the end of the season. He recalled giving up a bunch of soft hits before throwing a 2-1 cutter to Wallach.

“I remember just looking at him, making sure he didn’t pimp it,” Lorenzen said.

That’s just playful banter. When it really matters, the two are close. And they are rooting for each other’s successes this year. Wallach saw Lorenzen become one of college baseball’s best closers on his way to being a first-round draft pick in 2013. That was back when all Lorenzen threw were fastballs and an occasional curveball.

Lorenzen saw Wallach come into his own in 2013 after two years without a home run. He developed power and hit for average. He was good enough to get drafted four rounds after Wallach.

Now they’re watching each other have success at the highest level. And they’re once again doing it together.

“We get along great,” Wallach said. “We enjoy each other’s company. As much time as I can spend with him, the better.”

Angels extras

Shohei Ohtani hit his 100th career home run in the fifth inning of the second game of the doubleheader. He is the third Japanese player to reach the milestone and did it quicker than the other two (Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki), needing only 442 games.

Raisel Iglesias blew the save in the first game of the doubleheader, a 4-3 loss to Oakland. There were two outs and no one on base. Iglesias then allowed a double, a walk and the first career home run to Luis Barrera.

Luis Rengifo exited the second game of the doubleheader with a right elbow contusion suffered when he was hit by a pitch.

• The Angels designated Aaron Whitefield for assignment between games and optioned Jack Mayfield to Triple-A. Matt Duffy was recalled from the COVID-19 IL, and right-handed pitcher Andrew Wantz was recalled.

(Photo of Michael Lorenzen: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images)

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