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Washington Nationals’ Jeremy Hellickson wanted shot to get out of the sixth in Philly

Jeremy Hellickson was rolling in the series opener, and things fell apart after he was lifted from what ended up being a 4-2 loss...

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Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Jeremy Hellickson tossed six scoreless, giving up three hits and four walks while striking out six of the 23 batters he faced in a 15-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park back on April 10th.

Hellickson, 32, talked about going up against Washington’s NL East rivals before what was his first start of the 2019 campaign after he’d made his season debut out of the bullpen.

“Just a veteran group” Hellickson said. “They take their walks. A lot of on-base guys, a lot of power all the way through, played with a few of those guys when I was with them, their top three hitters are now their 6-7-8 guys, so it’s a deep lineup.

“But, you know, I’ll be ready for them.”

Hellickson’s manager, Davey Martinez, talked glowingly about what he saw from the veteran right-hander after that game.

“He kept the ball down. He really did. He made some good pitches. He mixed his pitches up really well today, and he was attacking the strike zone,” Martinez said.

Hellickson earned his second win in two starts when he went up against the San Francisco Giants in start No. 2 of 2019, but he struggled in the next two outings, giving up 15 hits and 11 runs, 10 earned, in eight innings (11.25 ERA) against the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres.

Hellickson fell behind early on Friday night in the City of Brotherly Love, giving up a one-out home run by Philly shortstop Jean Segura on a 2-0 fastball up in the zone, but he held the Phillies there in the first, and retired seven straight after giving up a one-out hit in the home-half the opening inning.

That early run was all the Nationals’ right-hander gave up through five innings, as he piled up Ks, 9 from 18 batters, the most he’s collected since 2017, and one shy of his career high, and the Nats took a 2-1 lead on a Kurt Suzuki home run in the top of the sixth inning.

Hellickson came back out for the bottom of the sixth, but was lifted after giving up a one-out single by Jean Segura. Dan Jennings took over with Bryce Harper at the plate, and he walked the left-hander to put two on in front of Rhys Hoskins, who hit a 1-1 slider out to left field for a three-run blast and a 4-2 lead.

Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 79 P, 56 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

That’s how it ended, with the Phillies taking the series opener from the Nationals and a lot of questioning of Martinez’s decision-making in the sixth.

“There’s going to be games where that’s probably the right move, but the way I was going today I think that was my inning. I thought I should have got a chance to get out of there,” Hellickson told reporters after the loss.

“He got us through the five innings and pitched well. He had 80-something pitches, and I thought at that particular moment we had the guys to hold them right there,” Martinez said.

“He was good, he was really good,” Martinez said of Hellickson at another point in his post-game presser.

“Kept the hitters off-balance. That inning, the big inning that started it all was a little ground ball hit by Segura which he seems to do a lot.”

“I thought everything was pretty good tonight. Just getting ahead — when I got ahead I was making good pitches, and I thought the offspeed was pretty good,” Hellickson said when he was asked to assess his outing overall.

Martinez said in the end it all came down to the fact that the offense couldn’t get much of anything going.

“Just we didn’t hit,” he said. “I mean, we’ve got to score more than two runs. Helly kept us in the ballgame. Had a couple opportunities, but couldn’t get that big hit.”