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Must-read: Lorenzen’s first career home run was a tribute to his late father

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Reds’ reliever Michael Lorenzen hit his first career home run two days after his father died. An extraordinary feat for most pitchers was made even more poignant under unusual and heartbreaking circumstances; as Lorenzen told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, he had difficulty taking his place at the plate during the seventh inning of the Reds’ 9-2 finish. “Even after the third out of my first inning I threw, I had to go back into the bathroom because I broke down,” Lorenzen said. “There were some teammates back there that were able to help me out. I was able to go out and hit.”

It was a healing moment for Lorenzen and a touching one for those in attendance at Great American Ball Park, who later asked for a curtain call from the right-hander as he exited the game in the eighth. But the home run tribute also recalled Lorenzen’s complicated relationship with his father, one that the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan explored in depth this weekend.

Buchanan describes the tumultuous childhood that Lorezen and his older brother, Jonathan, experienced in the mid-1990s. There were car rides to youth baseball games, during which their father, Clif, would drink and drive. There were domestic disputes between their parents and, later, charges of grand theft and forgery that convinced Clif to abandon his family in 2004. Both Michael and Jonathan struggled to find some equilibrium after the departure of their father, struggles that culminated for Jonathan when he was charged with “lewd and lascivious battery of a minor” after allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl at the Dodgers’ spring training dorms.

The turnaround, Buchanan notes, arrived with Lorenzen’s newfound faith in God. Faith was the catalyst that spurred Lorenzen to reconcile with his father in the years before Clif’s death. Now, he believes that his home run gave some purpose to his father’s passing and inspiration to thousands who found themselves in similar situations.

You can read Buchanan’s piece, “In the Name of the Father,” in full here. It’s a heart-wrenching, beautifully-told story that captures the breadth and importance of forgiveness under the most difficult of circumstances.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.