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Paul Skenes strikes out 11, allows no hits in 6 innings as Pirates rout Cubs

Andrew Destin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO — When Ian Happ’s bat went airborne on a whiff in the first, it became abundantly clear Friday afternoon belonged to Paul Skenes.

In just his second career MLB start, the Pirates right-hander struck out each of the first seven batters he faced, coming two shy of matching Pablo Lopez’s modern-day record to start a game. Skenes is the first Pirates pitcher since at least 1974 to strike out the first seven batters of a contest.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander also did not allow a hit across six innings at Wrigley Field, finishing with 11 strikeouts, the most by a Pirates rookie in franchise history. The sole blemish on his final line was walking Michael Busch with one away in the fifth, and Skenes came quite close to striking him out, too, if not for a borderline pitch being called a ball.

It wasn’t until Pete Crow-Armstrong grounded out to first with one away in the third that the Cubs even put a ball in play against Skenes.

Though Mike Tauchman struck out on a foul tip in the first, Busch’s at-bat in the second inning marked the first time a Chicago hitter made contact against Skenes on Friday. No matter what he threw, the Cubs struggled to come up with any answers.

Skenes made established big league hitters like Christopher Morel look silly, the Cubs third baseman swinging and missing on a four-seam fastball before flailing on a slider in the second. Morel was far from Skenes’ sole victim.

 

Skenes induced 22 whiffs across 100 pitches, 67 of them for strikes. Twelve of them came on a four-seam fastball that averaged just below 100 mph. His slider and splinker — a hybrid between a splitter and sinker — also produced their fair share of swings and misses.

On the day, he tallied 11 first-pitch strikes out of 19 batters, 13 called strikes, 22 swinging strikes, 25 foul balls, and seven total in-play strikes. He also recorded six outs on ground balls and one on a fly ball.

All told, Skenes' start wasn’t quite record-breaking. It was, however, utterly dominant.

On the mound

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