Paul Skenes' sensational MLB start continues with 9 strikeouts in Pirates' win over Tigers

The Paul Skenes show carries on.

The rookie Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher continued to dazzle Wednesday in his fourth MLB start. Skenes struck out nine Detroit Tigers batters while offering little to hit in a 10-2 Pirates win.

Skenes repeatedly befuddled batters with a fastball that hit 100 mph and a splitter that topped out at 95. He started the game with a 1-2-3 first inning. The Tigers tagged him for a run in the second with a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly.

Skenes then pitched a scoreless third before striking out the side in the fourth, leaning on his splitter for the knockout blows.

Mark Canha swung and missed at a 94-mph splitter in the zone for strike three. Colt Keith then swung and missed on a 94-mph splitter off the plate. Akil Baddoo couldn't catch up with a 95-mph third-strike splitter that dropped to the bottom of the zone.

Then the fifth inning was all about efficiency. Skenes needed just nine pitches to retire the side with two lineouts and a strikeout of Spencer Torkelson.

In the sixth, Skenes eventually made a mistake and Matt Vierling made him pay. Skenes left an 87-mph slider hanging in the middle of the strike zone, and Vierling launched it over the left field wall for a solo home run to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 5-2 with two outs.

Skenes then induced a groundout from Canha, and his day was done.

In the end, Skenes pitched six innings, allowing three hits, one walk, one home run and two earned runs with nine strikeouts. The 22-year-old raised his career strikeout total to 30 in 22 innings pitched in four games.

He got plenty of support along the way Wednesday, including another home run from Andrew McCutchen, who launched a three-run shot in the third inning to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead.

Pittsburgh never trailed again. McCutchen has now homered in each of Skenes' four starts to raise his tally to eight for the season.

Despite Skenes' excellence, the Pirates are struggling to keep up in the NL Central. With the win, Pittsburgh improved to 26-30, good for fourth place in the division, six games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. The Tigers dropped to 27-28, 10 games behind the first-place Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central.