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

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

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

First pitch: swinging strike at 160 km/h.

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

Third pitch: swinging strike at 100.8 mph.

You may never see Ohtani as overmatched as he is here.

Skenes then got Freddie Freeman out on a fly ball to end the inning.

The Skenes-Ohtani rematch took place in the third, with the Pirates leading 7-0 after a disastrous inning for Dodgers starting pitcher James Paxton. Skenes got another strike with a first-pitch fastball at 99.6 mph, then went for the full count.

After getting five strikes on six fastballs to Ohtani so far, Skenes once again returned to the fastball for the winning pitch. But this time, Ohtani was ready, sending the ball 415 feet into the batter’s eye in center field.

By Sarah Langs of MLB.comthat 100.1 mph fastball was the fastest pitch Ohtani homered on in his career.

Ohtani also won the third round, firing a 98.1 mph fastball for a one-out single in the fifth inning. Skenes finished his day with five innings pitched, three earned runs, six hits, one walk and eight strikeouts, earning the victory in a 10-6 win for the Pirates.

This is fun baseball, perhaps for no one more than Skenes. Although he’s known as a flame-throwing monster on the mound, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft was once known for his own two-way abilities as a hitter and pitcher. At the Air Force Academy, Skenes won the John Olerud Award as the nation’s top two-way player in 2022 before transferring to LSU and focusing on throwing.

As he told Alex Stumpf of, he idolized Ohtani during this period of his career:

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

Skenes got to see a side of that talent up close and personal on Wednesday, with mixed results.

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