Pirates’ Paul Skines hits 7 homers over 4 innings in MLB debut

The long-awaited MLB debut of Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Paul Skenes brought energy to PNC Park on Saturday.

The 21-year-old LSU product, the highest-rated prospect in MLB, held the Chicago Cubs to one run through four innings and was lifted in the top of the fifth with the Pirates leading 6-1.

Skines struck out seven, walked two and allowed three earned runs and six hits on 84 pitches in his first outing in the major leagues. The first run he allowed came on a Nico Hoerner home run in the fourth inning.

After a rain delay of more than two hours, the bullpen let Skanes down, recording six walks that gave Chicago the lead as part of a seven-run fifth inning. The Pirates then fought back and regained the lead thanks to Yasmani Grandal’s home run in the bottom of the fifth en route to a 10-9 win.

Pirates fans and baseball fans had been waiting for Skenes to finally be called up to the major leagues. And on Wednesday, it happened, and a packed PNC Park gathered early in anticipation for his debut.

Crowds Formed around the game of pirates Before the game to watch Skenes warm up. He immediately rewarded those in attendance by striking out the first two hitters he faced: Mike Tauchman and Seiya Suzuki.

Tauchman came down swinging with a full count on his 101 mph fastball.

Suzuki, who came down on A 99 mph fastball on the second strikegot to try out Skenes’ slider, which was pretty bad, in his first appearance at the plate.

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A regular comparison for Skenes has been former Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg. The similarities start with the size and power of his fastball. Both dominated hitters at the college level and later in the minor leagues.

Strasburg’s MLB debut in 2010 was anticipated around baseball, as was when Skines took the ball in his first at-bat on Saturday.

(like MASN Mark Zuckerman (Note that Andrew McCutchen was the leadoff hitter Saturday, just as he was in Strasburg’s first MLB outing.)

Skenes has made a quick journey from being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft to debuting for the Pirates. His wait of 10 months and two days wasn’t quite as quick as the 96 days it took for fellow LSU Tiger Ben McDonald, the No. 1 pick in the 1989 draft, to get to The Show, but it was worth the wait.

Skines earned his call-up after seven starts at Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He threw 27 1/3 innings and recorded 45 strikeouts, with just eight walks, a 0.99 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. He also held his opponents to a batting average of .175.

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The Buccaneers have been waiting to see signs that Skinnes could be ready for a call-up before this season, and he has delivered outstanding performances in every game in the junior division.

“He felt confident that he could come in and help us win games,” the Pirates general manager said. Ben Sherrington on Thursday, one day after Skinnis was called. “As simple as that really, and like we said back in spring training, most of the time he was the one telling us. Not all of it, because we had control over some of the scheduling and volume, so it wasn’t all up to him. But most of it was up to him, and I think he told us Loud and clear that he is ready.

Skinnes said during his media session on Friday that he just wants to put the Buccaneers “in a position to win.” His presence, along with fellow rookie pitcher Jared Jones, has invigorated not only the team’s rotation but also Pittsburgh’s fan base, which hasn’t seen a winning record since 2018 and hasn’t seen a baseball game since 2015, when Skines was 13 years old.

Pirates fans are hoping Saturday will be the beginning of a future that will see winning baseball return to the city.

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