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Pirates Takeaways: Bucs Continue to Down Dodgers, Skenes vs. Ohtani, Big Velocity

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Aroldis Chapman, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates were victorious against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second-straight time, continuing a stretch of strong play against one of baseball’s best teams over the last few years.

After edging out a 1-0 win in the series opener on Tuesday, the Pirates’ offense did the heavy lifting in a 10-6 triumph on Wednesday night at PNC Park.

The win was largely due to a seven-run second inning in which the Pirates sent 11 men to the plate.

“We did a couple things. We saw the ball well. We did a good job on Paxton. We hit situationally,” manager Derek Shelton said. “We had second and third, we moved a guy. We had a bunt. Grandal comes up, runner on second, nobody out — base hit to right field. We did a really good job with situational hitting to continue to keep the line moving.”

The victory ensured at least a series win with a chance for a sweep in the finale on Thursday. It also gives the Pirates 10 wins in their last 15 games against Los Angeles dating back to the start of 2022. Over that span, the Pirates are the only National League team with a winning record against the Dodgers.

Heading into this season, the Dodgers were picked by many to win the World Series. So far, they look the part. The Dodgers are currently way out in front in the N.L. West with a 38-25 record. They have the second-best record in the Senior Circuit behind the Philadelphia Phillies (44-19).

But no matter how talented the Dodgers’ roster is and how many wins they have compiled over the last couple of seasons, the Pirates have given them fits.

A series win and a chance to break out the brooms in their first time facing the Dodgers this season gives the Pirates a jolt of confidence.

“It’s huge,” said Paul Skenes, who was the winning pitcher on Tuesday. “Just gotta keep playing good baseball.”

Power vs. Power

Speaking of Skenes, his matchups with two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani generated plenty of buzz.

The Pirates’ rookie got the better of Ohtani in the top of the first inning. Skenes struck out Ohtani on three fastballs that all touched triple digits, the last of which was clocked at 100.8 mph.

The tables turned in the second meeting. Skenes induced two more whiffs but Ohtani worked the count full. Skenes tried to blow a fastball by the Dodgers’ designated hitter but Ohtani deposited the pitch over the fence in center field.

“Yeah, I like to call that big on big because I obviously beat him a couple times earlier,” said Skenes. “I think that was the right pitch to throw there, he’s just a pretty darn good player. Stuff like that is going to happen.”

Ohtani got the better of Skenes once more in the fifth with a hard-hit single through the right side.

Those are the types of matchups that are good for the sport. While fans of the game surely enjoyed seeing two headliners go toe-to-toe, the guys in uniform did too.

“Ohtani and Skenes is kind of what you want to watch,” said Nick Gonzales after his four-RBI performance. “As a player, too, we’re just as eager to see those guys go at it as much as the fans. It’s really cool to see.”

Straight Heat

Who would have thought Jared Jones lighting up the radar gun on Tuesday night would serve only as an appetizer to the velocity that was on display on Wednesday.

Skenes hit triple digits on the radar gun a whopping 16 times. Aroldis Chapman, who handled the seventh inning, threw 12 pitches of at least 100.0 mph.

Chapman threw the nine hardest pitches in the game, topping out at 104.0 mph. Not only is that the hardest thrown pitch in Major League Baseball this season, but it’s the fastest pitch ever thrown by a Pirates’ pitcher in the Statcast Era.

“A little different type of pitcher, but it’s an honor frankly to play on the same team as him with what he’s accomplished in this game,” Skenes said of Chapman. “It’s always so cool to watch.”

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