The Dodgers were hoping for incremental improvements from Dustin May on Friday night.
Over five hitless innings, the hard throwing righthander yielded much more.
In his best start since returning from Tommy John surgery last month, May was as clinical as he was overwhelming in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win over the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.
His fastball command was much more consistent than in his first four starts, as he walked only one batter while finding the strike zone with 40 of 69 pitches.
His secondary work was sharper. He used his curveball and change-up to strike out four.
And with a speed increase that included a number of pitches over 100 mph, the Giants hitters looked helpless, failing to score a hit against him in five innings while managing just a handful of balls going hard. were hit.
“I threw strikes, plain and simple,” May said, before showing off, “It’s a weird concept. You throw strikes, you get outs.”
Against the minimum number of batters after clearing his lone blemish, the 25-year old walked with one out in the second inning, with a double play in the next at bat.
The only reason May – who said he didn’t even realize he had a no-hitter when he was taken out of the game – couldn’t continue? According to manager Dave Roberts, his arm had suffered from his previous start, prompting the team to postpone his outing for a few days and limit his number of pitches. (May had thrown at least 80 pitches in each of his previous three starts.)
Reliever Alex Vesia gave up an infield single to Luis González on a slow roller to second place with two outs in the sixth, ending the Dodgers’ ninth no-hit bid this year to go over five innings.
However, the bullpen still managed to eliminate the Giants for the rest of the night to record the team’s 14th shutout of the season.
With the Dodgers holding a four-run early lead after knocking down Giants righthander Logan Webb—including a three-run rally in the fourth that Roberts had “one of the best offensive innings we’ve had”—the manager considered May hold in for another inning.
In the end, though, the win is to get him “out of the game, feeling good,” Roberts said. “If you think about how he threw the baseball the last few times, he was winding down tonight and… [knowing he’s] going his next turn on regular rest was the smart decision. ”
May’s performance on Friday was indeed a much-needed turning point for a pitcher who had gone the wrong way in recent weeks.
After allowing just two runs (one earned) in his first two starts back, both against the Miami Marlins, May looked shaky in his last two appearances against the San Diego Padres.
In total of 10 innings, he gave up 10 runs (earned nine) while walking as many batters as he struckout (eight each).
His control was everywhere. Defensive mistakes sometimes seemed to contribute to increasing frustration. And a pitcher the Dodgers had counted on to contribute in the postseason seemed far from the top form of October.
“A man coming from Tommy John, the last thing that comes is the feeling, the command,” Roberts said before the match. “This is a good test for him.”
He passed with flying colors and exuded 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’ll go quick outs, get in and get out.”
Roberts added: “He’s starting to find his way.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.