Dodgers’ Dustin May good, but Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara better

The missed ground ball left Dustin May curled up on the turf.

But on his second start after Tommy John’s surgery, it was a curveball he hung in the hitting zone that — as promising as it looked on his return to the team — signaled the fine margins where the right-hander can still go further track down.

In fact, May did mostly well in the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins on Saturday night at LoanDepot Park.

Not good enough to trump Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara, who recovered from a six-run clunker against the Dodgers on Sunday by throwing his fourth full game of a likely Cy Young Award-worthy season.

Not good enough to overcome the Dodgers’ defensive surrender in the sixth inning when May and second baseman Chris Taylor misplayed two grounders to extend an inning in which the Marlins hit the eventual winning run.

But just like in his season debut last weekend, the hard-throwing, red-headed May once again showed the alluring potential that could make him a key weapon for the Dodgers (87-38) on the track and in the playoffs.

“If we had gotten his first two gigs back from Tommy John, we would have banked on what he has done so far,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Dustin is doing everything and more than we could have hoped for.”

Los Angeles Dodgers Joey Gallo (12) walks past Miami Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings.

The Dodgers’ Joey Gallo goes past Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings after a strikeout in the fifth inning. Miami pitcher Sandy Alcantara hit 10 in an entire game.

(Michael Laughlin/Associated Press)

That doesn’t mean May is all the way back.

Roberts acknowledged that the pitcher “can still get significantly better” and that “a lot of college degrees are required.”

“Dustin’s talent, his drive, his will allow him to perform well at this level,” added Roberts. “But to get where we need to be this year and to be able to count on him at certain points, there is still a lot to do.”

May expressed similar frustration with herself, upset not only at missing the two-out ground ball in the sixth inning but also at not throwing too many pitches — including the one that ended up over the result decided.

“I feel like I can take a lot of steps forward,” May said. “The execution could definitely be a lot better not being able to tug stuff or [throw] only bad spinning breaking balls. Just being able to take guys.”

May cruised during the first five innings. He stranded a walk in the first inning, pulled the team back in the second and third in turn, and gave up his only run on Brian Anderson’s single in the fourth.

After mowing through the Marlins (54-72) in the fifth, he was on the verge of another clean inning in the sixth, leading Joey Wendle to hit a slow roll back toward the mound to make the final.

Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara delivers during the first inning August 27, 2022 in Miami.

Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara rebounded from his shortest game of the season — against the Dodgers on Sunday — by throwing a six against LA on Saturday.

(Michael Laughlin/Associated Press)

However, May sniffed the Grounder as he charged towards it and misjudged a jump to slip the ball under his glove.

Disappointed, he dropped to the ground and craned his neck when Wendle drove in first with what was classified as a single.

“I wish I could take back the groundball error on my side,” he said. “I just didn’t get to it, and then it went right under my glove.”

Taylor allowed the inning to continue with a miscue of his own by launching a chopper at second base in the next at-bat to board two in what was still a tie.

Trying to buckle up and escape the inning, May outplayed Jerar Encarnacion in the next at-bat with two sinkers and a curveball. In a 1-and-2 count, he attempted to sneak another curveball over the outer portion of the plate. However, he missed his spot, leaving the field above center for Encarnacion to move to left field.

The RBI single gave the Marlins a lead Alcantara wouldn’t give up, his only flaw coming on Mookie Betts’ 30th home run of the season in the third inning.

It also encapsulated a night in which May was good but not flawless — and underscores the small ways in the final month of the season that the Dodgers still need to grow.

“He did great again tonight but I think he has one more level to go,” said shortstop Trea Turner. “It’s only a matter of time. He’ll be a force out there.”

Clayton Kershaw just before returning

Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitched a simulated four-inning game on Saturday and set it up to return to the Dodgers’ rotation on Thursday or Friday. … Aide Chris Martin said he doesn’t think his recent elbow problem will require a stint on the injury list and said a recent MRI scan came back clean. … Supply man Gavin Lux was still not advanced enough to play on Saturday after suffering a neck injury. Roberts said he could be back Sunday or Monday. Dodgers’ Dustin May good, but Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara better

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