It took until his 13th inning for Dustin May to allow his first run of the season, but the Dodgers offense provided plenty of support for the right-hander in a 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday night at Chase Field in Phoenix.
May followed up his gem last Friday at Dodger Stadium — when he threw seven scoreless innings in the longest start of his career — with another solid outing Thursday. He kept Arizona off the board through five innings, and retired nine straight batters before opening the sixth with a four-pitch walk and a double ripped by Josh Rojas to the right field wall for May’s first run allowed in 2023.
May fell behind the next hitter, Ketel Marte, 2-0 before striking him out, and got through the inning without further damage. The right-hander touched 100 mph with his sinker, and struck out five on the night, throwing 83 pitches.
Dustin May, 100mph Sinker with 19" of run. pic.twitter.com/nVLhScJ21K— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 7, 2023
Unlike last Friday, when the game was scoreless when May walked off the mound, on Thursday at Chase Field May left with a 4-1 advantage thanks to a Dodgers offense that threatened in multiple innings.
Sloppiness reigned in the third inning, with the Dodgers dropping a chip or two on their way to cash in but ultimately coming out ahead. A bobble by Jake McCarthy in right field added a base to Freddie Freeman’s single, then scored when Arizona couldn’t turn a potential inning-ending double play. Pitcher Merrill Kelly stumbled while covering first, and as the throw caromed off his glove, Freeman scored while shortstop Geraldo Perdomo was charged with an error.
Max Muncy was the batter on that potential double play, then scored on a double to left by J.D. Martinez. On the play, Muncy scored before Martinez was thrown out rather easily trying to advance to third on the throw home. Martinez has been thrown out at third base twice this season (also in the fifth inning on opening day), accounting for both Dodgers outs while running the bases in the first seven games of the season (not counting stolen base attempts).
The net for the Dodgers in the inning was two runs, their 11th inning with multiple runs this season. MLB teams are averaging roughly seven crooked-number innings so far in 2023.
Will Smith didn’t homer on Thursday, snapping a three-game streak, but he did double in the sixth inning and scored on a James Outman single. Smith has at least one extra-base hit in five of his six games to start the season, and is slugging .913.
Freeman did homer, his first of the season, in the seventh, his second hit of the night. Outman singled twice and walked Thursday, and has reached base in 12 of his 23 plate appearances this season for a .522 on-base percentage.
Kelly couldn’t complete the sixth inning, but his 5⅔ innings marked the longest start against the Dodgers so far this season. Opposing starting pitchers have a 6.55 ERA against Los Angeles this season, allowing 24 runs in 33 innings, with 24 walks and 32 strikeouts.
By contrast, Dodgers starting pitchers have lasted at least six innings in six of seven games, with a 1.76 ERA in 41 innings.
Sorting out the bullpen
May was a few feet away from getting another no-decision. Alex Vesia, like when he followed May last Friday, allowed another two extra-base hits on Thursday. Jake McCarthy tripled and Gabriel Moreno doubled in the seventh for a run.
Yency Almonte followed with a two-out walk in the inning, and Josh Rojas nearly tied the game with a three-run home run down the right field line, but it was just foul. Almonte got Rojas to fly out to center, well within the field of play, on the next pitch.
With a three-run lead and Arizona’s 2-3-4 hitters due up in the eighth inning, in the first game after a day off, the Dodgers went with Phil Bickford, making him the first on the team to pitch for the third time in the last four days. In a spot usually reserved for Evan Phillips, Bickford allowed a double and wild pitch to open the frame before getting out of the jam with two strikeouts and an infield popup.
Bickford touched 96.8 mph in the inning, matching the fastest pitch of his career (also done once in 2021 and once in 2022). Bickford averaged 94.1 mph on his fastball in 2022, and averaged 93.9 mph in 2021.
Brusdar Graterol was not available to pitch the eighth, manager Dave Roberts said after the game.
Dave Roberts said Brusdar Graterol’s back tightened up mid game tonight. That’s why Bickford pitched the eighth— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) April 7, 2023
Roberts said Graterol should be OK to pitch tomorrow
Phillips did get the ball in the ninth inning, and finished off the game with a perfect frame for his second save in a row.
Home run: Freddie Freeman (1)
WP — Dustin May (1-0): 6 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP — Merrill Kelly (0-1): 5⅔ IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv — Evan Phillips (2): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
Clayton Kershaw makes his second start of the season on Friday night (6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA), in a rematch against Madison Bumgarner.