Pirates P Paul Skenes Draws Praise After Grinding Through Start

Paul Skenes

Getty Paul Skenes turned in another strong start for the Pirates.

Ask any catcher and they’ll tell you that a starting pitcher who can navigate a game without his best stuff is every bit as impressive as one who is razor-sharp.

Paul Skenes did just that through six innings in the Pirates’ 7-6 loss to the Giants on Thursday, May 24, limiting San Francisco to one run on six hits.

It was just the third career start for the 2023 No. 1 overall pick, and it was apparent early on that he would not be able to replicate his dazzling performance from his second outing.

Five days prior, Skenes fired six innings of no-hit ball with 11 strikeouts and one walk. On Thursday, the first batter he faced singled to right. The first two hits he allowed were both erased by double plays, but his luck ran out in the fourth when Thairo Estrada came around to score after drawing a one-out walk.

For the game, Skenes had just three strikeouts and only (yes, only) hit 100 mph on a pitch four times. Still, it largely didn’t matter as Skenes protected a 5-1 Pirates lead.

“Obviously, it wasn’t his best, you know what I mean?” catcher Joey Bart told reporters after the game, per MLB.com reporter Alex Stumpf. “But if you can go out there and put that kind of performance on without your best stuff, then there’s definitely something to build on.”

Paul Skenes: ‘I Trust Myself’

For someone with only three games of Major League experience, Skenes has plenty of self-confidence. And why shouldn’t he? He already lights up the radar gun and has shown he can baffle big-league hitters. His third start was a learning experience — one that most starting pitchers would love to have to endure, given that he only gave up one run.

“Just gotta get back to what makes me good and trusting my stuff,” Skenes told Stumpf. “You’ll take your singles, but the odds of them getting four singles in a row, I trust myself over pretty much any lineup. It’s just playing the odds a little bit.”

His manager, Derek Shelton, saw the game as just another challenge Skenes has proven he could overcome.

“There’s going to be so many growing moments for him, but last start out he doesn’t give up any hits,” Shelton told the AP. “Then this start he has to navigate through traffic, he has to navigate through some veteran hitters. It’s definitely going to make him better.”

Bart added that it’s easy to forget how young Skenes is. At just 21 years old, the LSU alum didn’t even have a full year of minor league experience.

“I think everybody’s going to obviously expect him to just go out there and dominate everybody … and, there’s a good chance he does,” Bart added. “But, it’s really hard for a kid that was pitching in the SEC Tournament last year at this time. So, I really like the way he’s composed himself. I’ve been impressed.”

Pirates Can’t Hold On

Despite Skenes leaving the game with a four-run lead, the Giants were able to ruin his chance at a second straight win. San Francisco rallied for one irun n the seventh and five in the eighth, tattooing Hunter Stratton for. Five runs on five hits.

Matt Chapman delivered the big blow with a three-run home run in the eighth, bringing home Estrada and LaMonte Wade Jr., who both singled ahead of him.

Skenes acknowledged that if he hadn’t needed to labor through a couple of innings, he could have helped keep the Giants at bay a little longer.

“I wish it were a little bit more,” he said, per Stumpf. “Had a couple long innings, but there’s going to be those games. I thought I made do and put the team in the best position to win.”

Giants manager Bob Melvin saw Skenes’ exit as an opportunity for his team to climb back into it, according to MLB.com.

“The guy [Skenes] comes out of the game, and they’re a little limited down there,” he said. “We put together some really good at-bats, and we were tenacious really until the last out.”

Skenes is on track to start again on Wednesday, May 29 in an afternoon game against the Detroit Tigers.

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