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Paul Skenes’ last pitch in Pirates-Rays might have been his best yet

As Boston Red Sox As a fan, I fondly remember Pedro Martinez’s days on the mound at Fenway Park when I was a certain age. Pedro’s starts weren’t just games, they were events, especially from 1999-2003. During that time, Pedro was one of the best pitchers in baseball, and his starts were must-sees. Those lucky enough to get tickets to see him pitch live planned their entire day around those games.

Not even 10 starts into his own MLB career, we’re starting to have that same level of interest. Pittsburgh Pirates Newcomer Paul Skenes.

Skenes made his eighth career start on the mound Sunday and pitched well again for the tall right-hander. Tampa Bay Rays At PNC Park, Skenes pitched seven innings, allowing one run on six hits and striking out eight.

And he saved perhaps his best fastball ever for his final pitch of the afternoon.

The rookie got off to a somewhat shaky start, giving up a home run off the first pitch of the game to Yandy Diaz and a double to the next Rays batter, Josh Lowe, but he settled down and got out of the inning with two strikeouts. The first came on a high 99 mph fastball to Randy Arozarena, and the second came when he struck out Isaac Paredes with an 87 mph slider on the outside corner. You can see the pitches that got both strikeouts here:

Skenes struck out two more batters in the second inning, first with a hard fastball to get Jose Siri to swing and miss, then with a blazing fastball to get Johnny DeLuca to the corner of home plate.

Skenes continued to use the “Splinker” well in the afternoon, striking out Alex Jackson in the third inning.

Jackson will play a starring role later in the game…

But as mentioned above, he may have saved his best pitch for the final one of the afternoon. Skenes had been working a pitch limit all season and took the mound in the bottom of the seventh to face the final three batters in Tampa Bay’s lineup. Skenes had already thrown 88 pitches by the start of the seventh inning, and it was likely that this would be his final pitch of the day.

How did he finish it off? By turning up the radar gun dial to 102 to shake Jackson down.

Also, a word about this call: “Sorry, Mr. Jackson, Paul Skenes is real”? Greg Brown’s work on this call was fantastic.

It was Skenes’ final pitch of the day, but it may have been his best yet.

The rookie left the game tied at 1-1, and the Rays got the win by scoring two runs in the next inning against Colin Holderman, who replaced Skenes.

But make no mistake: Paul Skenes is the real deal.

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