A cavernous Marlins Park, its crowd as sparse as ever and its eccentricity neutered, proved welcoming to the Dodgers as they faced the worst team in the National League on Tuesday. It did not trigger a sense of urgency for a club that, understandably, struggles to generate some at this stage. The Dodgers arrived with a division lead so big they could lose their next 18 games and still sit atop the NL West.
But tangible goals remain for the Dodgers to continue burying their competition before this playoff rehearsal ends. Collectively, the Dodgers, owners of the best home record in baseball, are striving to snatch home-field advantage away from the American League’s two behemoths — the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. Individually, players seek to carve a role or sustain production or reverse course.
On Tuesday, two of those individuals, rookies Dustin May and Will Smith, capitalizing on opportunities and seeking to make an impact in October, carried the Dodgers to a hefty early lead before a few established cogs delivered to produce a 15-1 blowout win over the Miami Marlins that concluded with catcher Russell Martin pitching and reliever Adam Kolarek playing first base.
May, a candidate for a spot on the Dodgers’ postseason pitching staff, allowed one run, three hits and a walk across 5 2/3 innings in his third career start to earn his first win. Smith homered twice to hike his total to nine in 23 games. The first, a solo shot in the fourth inning, landed over the navy blue — previously neon green —wall in left field to go back-to-back with Corey Seager. The second, a two-run blast in the sixth inning, landed where the polarizing colossal yellow sculpture used to overlook left-center field.
Dodgers Red alert: Dodgers rookie starter Dustin May turns fiery on days he pitches Dodgers Red alert: Dodgers rookie starter Dustin May turns fiery on days he pitches Dustin May’s usual easygoing personality morphs into fiery mode on the days the Dodgers rookie takes the mound. Advertisement Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger slammed back-to-back home runs off left-hander Wei-Yin Chen in the Dodgers’ four-run seventh inning. It was Turner’s 20th — giving him his third career 20-home-run season — and Bellinger’s 39th. He’s tied for the major league lead with Christian Yelich and Mike Trout. Matt Beaty topped off the home run frenzy with a solo swat in the eighth inning before contributing a three-run triple in the ninth. The Dodgers’ six home runs set a Marlins Park record. They added six doubles and one single, which Kristopher Negron supplied in the ninth inning. The 13 extra-base hits matched a franchise record.
The Dodgers (80-41) announced a change to their pitching plans early Tuesday, flipping May and Clayton Kershaw. May was originally scheduled to start Wednesday. Kershaw will pitch Wednesday instead and, as a result, will not appear in the Dodgers’ upcoming three-game series in Atlanta against the Atlanta Braves. The Braves, coincidentally, are a possible postseason opponent. Did the Dodgers make the switch so the Braves couldn’t get a look at Kershaw so close to October? Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that was a “good thought,” but insisted it was not the reason.
“I think the way he takes care of himself, he could’ve easily went today,” Roberts said. “But I think just where we’re at, seeing the calendar, there’s really no cost to moving him back a day and to just kind of build another day of rest for him, we felt good about it. He’s actually in a good a place as he’s been at this point in time of year than I can recall.”
So the third phase of the 21-year-old May’s audition came a day earlier than planned. The adjustment did not rattle him opposite the punchless Marlins (44-74). The fiery right-hander twirled off the mound when a pitch got away and bounced in fear when a ball threatening to find some grass. He operated with confidence as he diced through the anemic Marlins’ lineup with a sinker in the high 90s and a curveball he relied on often.
Advertisement May retired the first nine batters he faced. The Marlins’ only run was generated in the fourth inning after May issued a leadoff walk to Jon Berti and Brian Anderson stroked a double. It was the first run allowed by a Dodgers starting pitcher in 23 innings since May surrendered one in the sixth inning of his previous outing last Wednesday.
May struck out five and induced a double play with his 90th pitch before Roberts emerged to take the ball from him in the sixth inning. The Dodgers led 6-1 by then, en route to bulldozing another inferior foe without a hint of slowing.
LINK ORIGINAL: Latimes