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Paul Skenes smokes Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts with fastballs

Paul Skenes has had some impressive starts early on in his big career as one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball.

And yet, on Wednesday, he may have had his best performance yet for the Pirates.

Against a star-studded Dodgers team, the 22-year-old Skenes got off to a strong start against the top of the lineup, striking out Shohei Ohtani and Mookie Betts on a combined seven pitches.

Skenes struck out Betts on four pitches, two of which were over 100 mph, before striking out Ohtani on three fastballs also over 100 mph in a spectacular display of consecutive pitches.


Paul Skenes pitches the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park. Charles LeClair – USA TODAY Sports

Skenes watched Ohtani pitch at home for the Angels in 2018 and beat the Japanese superstar in Pittsburgh six years later. According to MLB.

“His pitch in his first at-bat was really good,” Ohtani said of Skenes after the Dodgers’ 10-6 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. “He didn’t take a great swing, but overall he was really good.”

Still, Ohtani hit a home run off Skenes in the top of the third inning, driving in Betts and putting the Dodgers within five runs.

According to MLB’s Sarah Langs:The 100.1 mph ball that Ohtani hit for the home run was the fastest ball the slugger has ever sent over the fence in major league baseball.

“Obviously, I’ve beaten him a few times before, so I like to hype it up,” Skenes said. “I thought that was the ball to throw there. He’s a really good player. These things happen.”

But in the end, Skenes had the last laugh, as he gave up three runs in five innings to fall to 3-0.


Dodgers player Shohei Ohtani (17) is greeted by third base coach Dino Ebel after hitting a two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Dodgers player Shohei Ohtani (17) is greeted by third base coach Dino Ebel after hitting a two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates. AP

Skenes, who contributed to the win and threw 91 pitches, made his Cubs debut on May 11 after a dominant minor league streak that included a 0.99 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis.

Wednesday marked Skenes’ fifth major league start and after pitching five innings against Los Angeles he had a 3.00 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 27 innings.

— The Associated Press

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