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‘That Means Everything,’ Jared Jones Blanks Childhood-Favorite Dodgers

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Jared Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — The Los Angeles Dodgers’ lineup would strike fear in even the most seasoned veteran pitcher.

Atop the lineup is three former MVP winners in Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman. Seven of the nine players in the starting nine on Tuesday have made at least one All-Star appearance.

The National League West-leading Dodgers are second in baseball with a .762 OPS and have slugged 77 home runs, the most in the N.L.

Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Jared Jones, who cheered for the Dodgers while growing up in Southern California, got to face his childhood team at PNC Park on Tuesday night.

Despite facing one of the better offenses in the league and one of the game’s better pitchers this season in Tyler Glasnow — against the team he grew up a fan of on top of it all — Jones delivered an excellent start in what resulted in a 1-0 win for Pittsburgh.

“My summers growing up as a kid consisted of going to Dodger Stadium.,” Jones said following his outing. “Going out there, facing them for the first time, throwing up six zeros and giving us a chance to win, that means everything.”

In Jones’ six-shutout innings, he held the Dodgers to three hits while walking three and striking out six batters. Two of those six strikeouts came against reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani, who also bounced into a double play against Jones.

The right-hander got better as the game went on. He retired the final nine betters he faced with four of the final six outs coming via punch outs. Jones capped off his night by striking out Jason Heyward on the 100th pitch he threw.

The early-game jitters, or adrenaline, or whatever it was that resulted in Jones throwing three first-inning pitches of at least 101 mph but also came with a lack of efficiency through the first few innings subsided.

“The nerves calming down, getting through lineups,” Jones said on how he got better the longer he went on. “I only gave up three hits today. Just getting the nerves down and going out there and competing.”

Jones’ statement start came on the heels of his worst outing in the big leagues.

In his last outing against the Detroit Tigers last week, Jones was tagged for seven runs, five of which were earned, in 4.1 innings while only recording two strikeouts.

Getting another shot couldn’t have come soon enough, and Jones seemed completely unfazed by the poor showing.

“I said last week that I couldn’t wait to get back on the mound again,” he said. “It’s a great feeling after a really rough one.”

Considering all the different factors that Jones had to deal with in what turned out to be one of his better starts, his ability to bounce back is what seemed to have left his manager most impressed.

“The Tigers game, they attacked him a little bit,” said Derek Shelton. “For him to bounce back after what you would say was his worst outing and then come back and do it against this team, I think that’s extremely impressive and I think that shows you the kind of moxie this kid’s got.”

Jones’ pitch mix is uber-impressive, especially for a 22-year-old. He’s capable of hitting triple digits on the radar gun. His slider has been even better than his fastball. On Tuesday, he displayed a strong feel for his changeup.

It’s Jones’ composure that might be his best attribute, however. That’s quite a statement considering the arsenal he’s shown during his rookie season in the big leagues.

His poise was on full display while on the mound in the 12th start of his career.

“I think that’s one of the things we’ve really liked and I think it’s the maturation that we’ve seen probably over the last probably year, not just in the big leagues but even last year in Indianapolis,” Shelton said. “To be able to pitch at this level and be able to pitch at a high level you have to be able to control your emotions. We’re seeing him start to do that.”

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