The Dodgers were hoping for incremental improvements from Dustin May on Friday night.
Over five hitless innings, the hard-throwing right-hander delivered a lot more.
After his best start since returning from Tommy John surgery last month, May was clinical and stunning in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win over the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.
His fastball command was much more consistent than his first four starts, as he walked just one batter while finding the strike zone on 40 of 69 pitches.
His secondary stuff was sharper. He used his curveball and changeup to rack up four strikeouts.
And with a surge in speed that included a few pitches over 100 mph, Giants hitters looked helpless, failing to record a hit against him in five innings while managing just a handful of balls that hit hard.
“I threw strikes, plain and simple,” May said before drying up. “It’s a weird concept. You throw strikes, you come out.”
That the 25-year-old did it after erasing his only flaw, a one-out walk in the second inning, with a double play in the next at-bat, with the minimal number of batters.
The only reason May – who said he didn’t even realize he had a no-hitter when he was knocked out – couldn’t continue? According to manager Dave Roberts, he was struggling with some arm pain after his previous start, prompting the team to delay his assignment by a few days and limit the number of his pitches. (May had thrown at least 80 pitches in each of his previous three starts.)
Reliever Alex Vesia gave Luis González an infield single with a slow roller to second with two outs in the sixth, ending the Dodgers’ ninth no-hit bid this year to go past five innings.
However, the bullpen eclipsed the Giants for the remainder of the night to record the team’s 14th shutout of the season.
With the Dodgers having an early four-run lead after knocking over Giants right-hander Logan Webb — including a three-run rally in the fourth that Roberts called “one of the best offensive innings we’ve had” — the manager, May, considered to keep in for another inning.
Ultimately, however, “winning it is taking him out of the game and feeling good,” Roberts said. “Considering how he’s pitched baseball the last few times, tonight he’s building up and [knowing he’s] Going into regular rest next was the wise decision.”
Indeed, May’s performance on Friday was a much-needed reversal for a pitcher who had been trending in the wrong direction for the past several weeks.
After giving up just two runs (one earned) in his first two starts against the Miami Marlins, May has looked shaky in his last two games against the San Diego Padres.
In a total of 10 innings, he gave up 10 runs (nine earned) while walking as many batters as he hit (eight each).
His control was everywhere. Defensive mistakes seemed at times to contribute to growing frustration. And a pitcher the Dodgers had been counting on in the postseason seemed a long way from October’s peak.
“A guy that comes from Tommy John, the last thing that comes is feeling in command,” Roberts said before the game. “It’s a good test for him.”
He passed with flying colors and showed the kind of dominance the Dodgers will need from him when the postseason begins.
“It’s huge,” May said. “If I can throw strikes, I can get out, in, and out quickly.”
Added Roberts: “He’s starting to find his way.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-09-16/dodgers-giants-recap-dustin-may-mlb Dustin May is unhittable in five innings as Dodgers top Giants