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Skenes strikes out first seven Cubs, 11 overall

Paul Skenes struck out the first seven Cubs hitters he faced Friday, setting a record for a Pirates pitcher and tying the major league record for a rookie.



Skenes strikes out first seven Cubs, 11 overall
Skenes strikes out first seven Cubs, 11 overall
CHICAGO -- Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Paul Skenes already is making history just two starts into his first major league season.

On Friday, the rookie struck out the first seven Chicago Cubs hitters he faced during an electric outing at Wrigley Field, his first big league appearance on the road and one that led to a 9-3 Pirates victory.

Skenes, who also faced the Cubs in his major league debut, cited better fastball command for his improvement.

"I had my pitches working for me a lot better than last time," the 21-year-old said. "It's really tough to compete without fastball execution, no matter who you are. It was a lot better today."

Skenes, 21, retired the first 13 batters overall before walking first baseman Michael Busch in the fifth inning. Busch was the only baserunner to reach off Skenes, who pitched six hitless innings on 100 pitches. He struck out 11 overall.

"He went right after them," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. "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' 100th pitch was clocked at 100 mph as he struck out Michael Tauchman for the third time in the game.

"The fastball command was good today," Tauchman said. "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."

Skenes was asked if he could appreciate the enormity of the moment -- a 6-inning, no-hit, 11-strikeout performance in his first road start at iconic Wrigley.

"That's something I'll appreciate even more the next couple days," he said. "Wrigley is awesome. I heard all about the day games at Wrigley and the vibe here. It was really, really cool."

The Cubs finally broke through with two outs in the seventh inning, as Christopher Morel hit an opposite-field single into right off reliever Carmen Mlodzinski.

Skenes' seven strikeouts to begin a game set a record for a Pirates pitcher and were second most behind Jim Deshaies (eight straight batters in 1986) and Jacob deGrom (eight, 2014) for the longest run by a rookie in MLB history. It also tied the fifth-longest streak to start a game in big league history; the all-time record is nine, shared by Mickey Welch (1884) and Pablo Lopez (2021).

Skenes' 18 strikeouts through the Cubs outings are tied with Nick Maddox (1907) for the most by a Pirates pitcher over his first two career starts.

Skenes threw 12 pitches at 100 mph or faster Friday, while sprinkling in his secondary pitches as part of a dominant performance. He became the fifth rookie pitcher since the mound was extended in 1893 to have 10 strikeouts and no hits allowed in a game.

Afterward, he was reminded that Major League Baseball is supposed to be hard.

"Yeah, that's what they say," he quipped back.

Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.