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Jun 5, 2024 7:16 am

Dodgers set for first look at Pirates’ Paul Skenes

Pirates, Paul Skenes

The Pittsburgh Pirates made the most of one powerful swing — a third-inning solo homer by Jack Suwinski — on Tuesday to hand the Los Angeles Dodgers their fourth shutout loss of the season.

Runs may be at a premium again on Wednesday evening when the teams play the second contest of a three-game series in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates will turn to hard-throwing right-hander Paul Skenes (2-0, 2.45 ERA) in their bid for a series victory. The Dodgers will send left-hander James Paxton (5-0, 3.29) to the mound.

Skenes will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow rookie Jared Jones, who gave up three hits over six scoreless innings in Pittsburgh’s 1-0 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday. Three relievers combined to seal the Pirates’ ninth win in their last 14 meetings with the Dodgers.

Skenes, the top overall pick in the 2023 draft, celebrated his 22nd birthday by allowing two runs on three hits in six innings during a 10-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers last Wednesday. He struck out nine and walked one.

Skenes routinely flirted with triple digits with his primary fastball, while his “splinker” — a split-finger fastball with sinking action — proved effective as well.

“It was the pitch he used the most,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Skenes’ specialty offering. “He did a really good job. He got some at-bats that were extended. The most impressive thing was he still finished hitters.”

Skenes has yielded three runs on nine hits with 23 strikeouts over his past 18 innings.

“First overall pick and all that — he deserves all the hype,” Los Angeles veteran Freddie Freeman said, per The Orange County Register. “He’s got a great arm, great stuff. It’s always fun facing guys like that.

“I don’t put anything into the hype. That’s just everyone else building him up. I’m sure he doesn’t like the hype. I’m sure he just wants to go out there and pitch and not worry about what everyone’s hyping him up to be. I wish people wouldn’t hype him. Just let him go out and be Paul Skenes. Just let him have a great career.”

While Skenes will make the fifth start of his career and the first vs. the Dodgers, Paxton will take the mound for the 167th time in the majors. His lone career encounter against the Pirates came on July 27, 2016, when he took the loss after yielding three runs on six hits in five innings during a 10-1 setback.

Paxton, 35, recorded a win in five of his first seven outings this season before settling for a no-decision in each of his past three. He tossed three shutout innings before being pulled after 50 pitches while starting last Wednesday against the New York Mets.

Paxton would be wise to pitch carefully to Suwinski, who homered Tuesday after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis that morning.

The teams combined in the game for just nine hits, left 15 runners on base and went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

–Field Level Media

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