Paul Skenes blows away Shohei Ohtani, who returns the favor in his next at-bat


Jun 5, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Paul Skenes (30) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Skenes has looked like a monster so far in his MLB career. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Paul Skenes vs. Shohei Ohtani is the kind of matchup that can sell an entire game. It more than lived up to its billing in Wednesday’s game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates..

Skenes took the mound against the NL West-leading Dodgers for the fifth start of his career and began on a dominant note, striking out Mookie Betts on four pitches. He then faced Ohtani, and what happened next can only be described as violence.

First pitch: 101.3 mph swinging strike.

Second pitch: 100.1 mph swinging strike (with a foul tip).

Third pitch: 100.8 mph swinging strike.

You may never see Ohtani look as overmatched as he did here.

Skenes proceeded to get Freddie Freeman out on a fly ball to end the inning.

The Skenes-Ohtani rematch came in the third inning, with the Pirates up 7-0 after a disaster inning for Dodgers starting pitcher James Paxton. Skenes got another swinging strike with a 99.6 first-pitch fastball, then ran the count full.

Having gotten five swinging strikes on six fastballs to Ohtani so far, Skenes went back to the fastball for the payoff pitch. Ohtani was ready for it, sending it 415 feet into the batting eye in center field.

Per MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, that 100.1 mph fastball was the fastest pitch Ohtani has homered on in his career.

Ohtani won the third round as well, pulling a 98.1 mph fastball for a one-out single in the fifth inning.

That is some fun baseball, possibly for no one more than Skenes. While he is currently known as a flamethrowing monster on the mound, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 MLB Draft was once known for his own two-way abilities as a hitter and pitcher. While with Air Force, he won the John Olerud Award as the nation’s top two-way player in 2022, before he transferred to LSU and focused on pitching.

As he told MLB.com’s Alex Stumpf, he idolized Ohtani during the stretch of his career:

“I grew up watching him,” Skenes said. “As a two-way guy, that was what I was trying to be before I got drafted. He was an inspiration in a lot of ways.”

He got to see one side of that talent up close and personal on Wednesday.





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