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Mirror image: May amazes on K of Manny

@alysonfooter
August 11, 2020

The final score wasn’t ideal for the Dodgers, but there was still plenty to like about their series opener with the Padres on Monday night at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers lost, 2-1, but their rookie sensation, Dustin May, ensured this outing was, again, must-see viewing. It was even a little

The final score wasn’t ideal for the Dodgers, but there was still plenty to like about their series opener with the Padres on Monday night at Chavez Ravine.

The Dodgers lost, 2-1, but their rookie sensation, Dustin May, ensured this outing was, again, must-see viewing. It was even a little reminiscent of his last start against the Padres, a solid six-inning performance in San Diego last week that included one pitch to a veteran star that had everyone abuzz.

Box score

Yes, it happened again -- May worked his magic on Manny Machado, and the outcome was largely the same.

A week after flummoxing the Padres star with a filthy two-seamer, the Dodgers right-hander pulled out a nearly identical pitch again. After retiring the first two batters in the top of the first, May whiffed Machado on a nasty 99.4 mph two-seam fastball that ran in on Machado's hands to close an efficient 10-pitch inning. The pitch had an incredible 19.2 inches of horizontal break.

The velocity was identical to the pitch that May used to strike out Machado last Tuesday. That two-seamer had 18 inches of horizontal break.

“It was kind of the same idea as last week, just getting under the hands and getting inside on him was very important,” May said. “I wasn't trying to go that far in, but it ran off and he swung at it. So it was a well-executed pitch, and that was kind of the game plan -- just to stay in. And it worked.”

Though the Dodgers and Padres entered the game as two of the highest-scoring teams in baseball, pitching dictated the night. The strategies were different, though -- the Dodgers had May stretched out and coming off a strong outing, while the Padres deferred to a cadre of relievers after starter Luis Perdomo exited after one inning.

By the narrowest of margins, the Padres had the advantage. The difference was a lone run in the sixth inning. May issued two walks in the inning, and Eric Hosmer connected with a 94 mph cutter that snuck a little too far over the plate. He laced a base hit to left to drive in the go-ahead run.

It was the first time since last Wednesday that San Diego scored a run on something other than a homer.

“I was trying to go in again, kind of like the earlier pitches in the AB, trying to get a swing over on the cutter,” May said of the Hosmer at-bat. “But I left it middle in, and he got his hands extended to it, and punched it over the infield.”

Of the more than 30 cutters May threw, only two didn’t work out in his favor. The other was one that turned into a solo homer by Austin Hedges in the fifth inning.

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Manager Dave Roberts was comfortable with his decision to stick with his pitcher to face Hosmer in the sixth, noting May’s pitch count was still reasonable and there was no dip in velocity.

“He was at 97, 98 [mph] and had teeth to all of his pitches, and I love the matchup,” Roberts said. “I didn't think that ‘Hos’ got good swings on him earlier. He left a cutter up and got a base hit. Unfortunately, that was the difference in the game.”

Pitchers in this series may be at a slight disadvantage, partly due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the season. A team’s entire schedule is comprised of games against only teams in its division, or in the corresponding division in the other league. That means division rivals may play each other twice in less than two weeks, with only a couple of days between series.

That’s the case right now between the Dodgers and Padres, who are playing each other seven times in 11 days.

May was aware of the fact that the Padres just saw him a handful of days ago, and he worked to give a slightly different look this time, using more offspeed pitches than he did in his prior outing.

“They have a feel for you, you have a feel for them,” May said. “I'm assuming they knew my game plan going in and it was just, get ahead early. You could kind of see the swings early on my heater, just trying to put it in play.

“They put it in play better today than they did the last outing, but I thought I faced them pretty well for the second time in five or six days. I thought that the game plan was switched up enough to where we kept them off balance.”

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.