MLB News & Moments You Should Know: 5/12/2024

Skenes shows off promise in MLB debut; Atlanta can't finish no-no bid.

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There are days where sometimes it is difficult to identify a top story in MLB. Then there are days such as Saturday, when the baseball gods present you with an overflowing helmet of headlines. A much-hyped (deservedly so) MLB debut was almost overshadowed by another historic event. As the second event unfolded, it reminded me of a day from 1995. Similarly, one event was anticipated, while the other was unscripted. It was May 1 of that year when Rickey Henderson of the Oakland A’s swiped third base for his 939th career steal, breaking Lou Brock’s MLB record. Hours later, noted flamethrower Nolan Ryan, at the time a 44-year-old with the Texas Rangers, tossed the seventh and final no-hitter of his illustrious career.


Today’s Headlines


Skenes Shines in MLB Debut


If you simply look at the final line for Paul Skenes‘ MLB debut, you might think it was kinda meh. But if you watched the 75 minutes of game action in which the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 MLB Draft took the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a much-anticipated showing, you would have a different reaction. The right-handed starter — the No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline and No. 6 by Baseball America — turned in a standout performance in his first MLB game, striking out seven in four-plus innings against the Chicago Cubs and thrilling long-starved Pirates fans.

Yes, the 21-year-old did struggle with fastball command, which led to two walks. Two of the six hits he allowed came on the final two batters he faced in the top of the fifth inning. When he was taken out of the game after throwing 84 pitches, the most of his young professional career, including 54 strikes, he did so with a 6-1 lead. But Pirates reliever Kyle Nicolas imploded behind him, hitting the first batter he faced and walking in two more (three total in a 13-pitch outing), putting two more runs on Skenes’ ledger.

Otherwise, Skenes pretty much was as advertised. His fastball was consistently at 101 mph (101.2 mph average) and his splinker (hybrid split-finger fastball and sinker) was a true weapon at an average of 94.7 mph. 17 pitches hit triple digits, including five to the first hitter he faced in the majors. Skenes struck out the first two batters he faced to begin the game, leadoff hitter Mike Tauchman and Seiya Suzuki, before walking Cody Bellinger and getting Christopher Morel to fly out to the warning track in center. After escaping a jam in the second inning and a quick third inning, Nico Hoerner accounted for the first run off Skenes, a one-out solo homer into the first few rows of the bleachers in left field. Meanwhile, his new Pirates teammates had staked Skenes to a 4-0 lead on Connor Joe’s three-run homer that was immediately followed by an Oneil Cruz blast to right.

Sure, it wasn’t as dynamic as Stephen Strasburg’s first game in 2010 after being the No. 1 overall pick the year before, but the promise is there for a Pirates franchise that has needed an infusion of optimism. The Pirates overcame six bases-loaded walks — all issued in a fifth inning interrupted by a two-hour rain delay — to beat the Cubs 10-9 thanks to five home runs.


Skenes’ Debut Line


Last Chance: Martinez Foils Atlanta No-No Bid


With the quality of pitchers the Atlanta franchise consistently rolls out, you would think there would be a plethora of no-hitters over the course of the team’s history in the ATL. The opposite is true — and J.D. Martinez made sure that will continue for at least another day. After Max Fried pitched seven no-hit innings and Joe Jiménez followed suit in the eighth, Atlanta closer Raisel Iglesias retired the first two batters in the ninth inning before Martinez took him deep to right field to foil the combined bid for history. Atlanta still prevailed 4-1. The last no-no in Atlanta history? It was left-hander Kent Mercker in 1994, which was the third since the team moved from Milwaukee in 1966. Fried finished with three walks and five strikeouts in his seven innings, while Orlando Arcia hit a two-run homer.


Jays Erase 6-run Deficit, Top Twins


There is no doubt that the Toronto Blue Jays have been among the most disappointing teams to begin 2024. Entering Saturday, the Jays were 17-21 and in last place in the American League East. While it is still too early to sweat over the standings, Toronto just was not playing well and wondering if the team would turn it around or become a seller at the trade deadline. But sometimes, one effort can lead to something positive and the Jays are hoping Saturday is one of those instances. After watching Kevin Gausman surrender seven runs in three innings for a 7-1 Minnesota Twins lead, the Jays rallied behind four hits and three RBIs from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and homers from three others, and Toronto came away with a 10-8 triumph.


Ohtani Exits With Back Issue


It might turn out to be very minor, but Shohei Ohtani has his first noteworthy injury with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The superstar designated hitter did not make his expected final plate appearance in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres due to lower-back tightness. Manager Dave Roberts said Ohtani will be held out of Sunday’s game, but used the words “precautionary” and “minimal” when asked about the move and the concern level. The Dodgers won 5-0 behind left-hander James Paxton’s six scoreless innings and Teoscar Hernández’s grand slam.


Best Moments From Yesterday


Rally Pelican?


Teams are always trying to outdo one another, especially when it comes to props. We have heard a lot about the Minnesota Twins‘ Rally Sausage. Now, do the San Francisco Giants have a Rally Pelican? This seabird decided to catch a few pitches during the Giants’ game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Giants are 1-0 with the Rally Pelican after a 5-1 triumph. Stay tuned to see if it returns.


Why Did The Turtle Cross The Outfield?


We have seen cats, dogs, birds and bees interrupt baseball games for one reason or another. But a turtle??? That was the case for the Bradenton Marauders, the low Class-A affiliate of the Pirates. All we need is some Statcast sprint-speed info. After all, this turtle appears to have some wheels.


Injuries and Other Moves


Texas Rangers right-handed starter Max Scherzer, on the 60-day injured list following offseason back surgery, was given a cortisone injection to address what is believed to be nerve irritation in his right thumb. A timeline for Scherzer’s debut is unknown as this latest issue halted his throwing program.

Detroit Tigers right-handed starter Kenta Maeda (viral illness) went on the 15-day injured list. Outfielder Akil Baddoo was called up to take Maeda’s roster spot, while right-hander Matt Manning will be promoted Monday to make a start.

New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo left Saturday’s game with a right intercostal irritation. Further info on Nimmo’s status is expected on Sunday.

⚾ Giants outfielder Michael C0nforto was removed from Saturday’s game due to a strained right hamstring and is headed to the 10-day IL, with outfielder Luis Matos likely getting a call-up. Catcher Patrick Bailey was activated off the seven-day concussion injured list by the Giants, who put outfielder Austin Slater on the same list. Also, second baseman Brett Wisely was called up from Triple-A as catcher Jakson Reetz was sent down.

Tampa Bay Rays right-handed closer Pete Fairbanks (nerve issue) was activated from the 15-day IL and right-handed reliever Edwin Uceta was optioned to Triple-A.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (strained lower back) will be activated from the 15-day IL and start Sunday against the Pirates. The surprising move comes as right-hander Jameson Taillon, who was expected to start Sunday, had experienced a stiff back during a bullpen session and needed extra time to get ready. Hendricks had been slated to make a final minor-league rehab start Sunday.

Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (back) was placed on the 10-day IL, with infielder Alika Williams coming up from Triple-A. Also, right-hander Roansy Contreras was designated for assignment to make room for some guy named Skenes.

Mets left-handed reliever Brooks Raley will meet with a surgeon on Tuesday to discuss options to repair damage to the UCL in his left elbow.


Articles You Should Read


Preller’s latest move shows he won’t go down without swinging— Russell Dorsey, Yahoo Sports

The Tortured Pitchers Department is here, courtesy of the Rangers — Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News

Marlins fans call on owner to sell team following Arraez trade — Mike Axisa, CBS Sports


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Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

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