Cubs are Held Scoreless by Pirates’ Paul Skenes, Who Leaves After Six

Right-hander Paul Skenes of the Pittsburgh Pirates is already creating history in just two starts during his major league debut.

The rookie made his big league debut on the road on Friday at Wrigley Field, where he struck out the first seven Chicago Cubs players he faced en route to a 9-3 Pirates victory.

Skenes, who made his major league debut against the Cubs as well, attributed his improvement to having improved fastball command.

The 21-year-old claimed, “I had my pitches working for me a lot better than last time.” “It’s really tough to compete without fastball execution, no matter who you are. It was a lot better today.”

Before walking Michael Busch, the first baseman, in the fifth inning, Skenes, 21, had dismissed the first 13 batters in the game. Pitching six hitless innings on 100 pitches, Busch was the only runner to reach base off of Skenes. All told, he struck out eleven times.

Derek Shelton, manager of the Pirates, remarked, “He went right after them.” “He used all of his pitches. The fact that he was able to go back and forth (between pitches) and then go back to the fastball when he needed it — and when you go back to the fastball and it’s 100 mph, it kind of changes the dynamic a little bit.”

Skenes struck out Michael Tauchman for the third time in the game with his 100th pitch, which was recorded at 100 mph.

Tauchman stated, “The fastball command was good today.” “And then he was able to tunnel that splitter/sinker — or whatever he calls it — off of it. And throw those all competitively. When you’re dealing with someone with that velocity and command and they make you make split-second decisions — he did a good job.”

When Skenes turned in a 6-inning, no-hit, 11-strikeout performance in his first road start at storied Wrigley Field, people asked if he could comprehend the magnitude of the occasion.

“That’s something I’ll appreciate even more the next couple days,” stated the man. “Wrigley is awesome. I heard all about the day games at Wrigley and the vibe here. It was really, really cool.”

After two outs in the seventh inning, Christopher Morel knocked an opposite-field single into right against reliever Carmen Mlodzinski, giving the Cubs their first run.

Skenes’ seven strikeouts in the first inning of a game tied a record for a Pirates pitcher and ranked second in MLB history for the longest run by a rookie, trailing only Jim Deshaies’ eight straight in 1986 and Jacob deGrom’s eight in 2014. In major league history, it also tied the fifth-longest streak of game starts; the record is nine, shared by Mickey Welch (1884) and Pablo Lopez (2021).

Skenes is tied with Nick Maddox (1907) for the most strikeouts by a Pirates pitcher in his first two professional starts with 18 through his Cubs games.

As part of a dominant outing on Friday, Skenes fired 12 pitches at 100 mph or faster while sprinkling in his secondary weapons. Since the mound was expanded in 1893, he is the seventh rookie pitcher to record 10 strikeouts and no hits allowed in a game.

Then someone reminded him that playing Major League Baseball is meant to be difficult.

He retorted, “Yeah, that’s what they say.”

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