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May breaks Internet, baffles Padres

@kengurnick
August 5, 2020

On a Tuesday night when A.J. Pollock came off the bench to be a hero and Justin Turner not only took one for the team but might have fired it up doing it, the Dodgers reminded the Padres who’s in charge of the National League West -- and even a

On a Tuesday night when A.J. Pollock came off the bench to be a hero and Justin Turner not only took one for the team but might have fired it up doing it, the Dodgers reminded the Padres who’s in charge of the National League West -- and even a rookie stepped up to help.

Dustin May wasn’t expected to start three of the Dodgers’ first 12 games this year, but now that he’s in the rotation, he’s pitching like he intends to stay there. He struck out a career-high eight, made it through six innings and picked up his first victory of the year in a 5-2 win.

Box score

May is in the rotation because Alex Wood is hurt, but manager Dave Roberts said he expects Wood to come back.

“We always talk about the depth of the starting staff,” Roberts said. “Dustin is making his claim, and that’s a good thing. He’s stepping up when given the opportunity. It’s nice to see him get two starts with a starter routine. We have a long way to do to see what happens.”

While May made 82 pitches, the internet was buzzing over just one -- a first-inning 99 mph sinker that struck out Manny Machado and dived so far into the batter that it left Machado grimacing.

“I couldn’t imagine a better pitch on the filth-meter,” said Roberts. “It started middle-in and ended up six to eight inches in. Speaks to the depth and the run. Made a really, really good hitter look pretty bad.”

Pollock, who homered and doubled in a run off the bench, said he had a good view of May pitching while watching the early innings in the stands.

“It was pretty nasty,” he said. “He’s gaining a lot of confidence and you watch his stuff, it’s pretty electric. We’re going to be counting on him for sure.”

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May came into the game determined to throw strikes after lasting only 3 1/3 innings in his previous start in Houston.

“For me, just getting the ball over the plate and allowing the hitters to make mistakes,” May said. “Tonight, I was locating the fastball both sides of the plate, the cutter was working.”

And the pitch that made Machado look silly? Where does he get that movement?

“Honestly, I just throw it and that’s how it comes out of my hand,” May said. “I grip it and rip it, that’s my thought process.”

May had to be on his game because opposing Padres starter Dinelson Lamet was throwing a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings, while San Diego had taken a lead on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s third-inning RBI double and Jake Cronenworth’s first MLB homer in the fourth inning.

“It’s always fun going up against a pitcher that’s doing well, it gives me the competition level because I go out there trying to outdo the other pitcher every time,” May said. “My goal is to make the other pitcher look worse than I do.

“There was more swing-and-miss tonight because I was putting the ball where I wanted it. I felt tonight I took a big step forward and I need to keep taking steps after that.”

May said his increased velocity this year is from offseason lifting that has added 20 pounds of muscle to his wiry, 6-6 frame.

“I feel like it’s definitely helped, for sure,” he said.

The Dodgers tied the game with a pair of runs in the sixth inning, the rally starting when Lamet hit Turner with a pitch. It allowed Turner to break Zack Wheat’s franchise record for HBPs (74).

Five batters were hit by pitches in this game, but Roberts said of Turner’s: “I don't know if it was a wakeup call, but it certainly could have been. It honed our focus a little more."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.