Jeremy Hellickson didn’t received a decision in his any of previous three starts before Wednesday’s in Milwaukee’s Miller Park, so he took the mound against the Brewers unbeaten in six outings overall, five as a starter, (2-0), with a 5.33 ERA, a 5.03 FIP, 10 walks (3.33 BB/9), 22 strikeouts (7.33 K/9), and a .275/.336/.477 line against in 27 innings pitched on the season.
Hellickson bounced back from rough outings in back-to-back starts against the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres (15 hits, 11 R, 10 ER in 8 IP) with a solid outing opposite the Philadelphia Phillies (4 H, 2 ER in 5 1⁄3 IP) in Citizens Bank Park last weekend, in a 4-2 loss, after which the right-hander and his manager talked about his success in the start.
“He was good, he was really good. Kept the hitters off-balance,” Martinez said, though he lifted Hellickson after just 79 pitches when the righty gave up a one-out single in the sixth with the heart of the Phillies’ order due up.
“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 added in his own post game talk with reporters.
Hellickson fell behind 1-0 on Brewers’ outfielder Christian Yelich with one out in the first yesterday in Milwaukee, then he hung a curve up over the middle for the reigning NL MVP, who hit it out to center field for a solo shot and a 1-0 lead early in the series finale in Wisconsin.
Anthony Rendon, in the hole near short in the shift, had a hard-hit ground ball off of Mike Moustakas’s bat shoot through his legs for what was ruled an error, and, after Hellickson, who didn’t walk anyone last time out, he issued a free pass to Ryan Braun that moved Moustakas into scoring position before the Brewers’ first baseman scored on a ground-rule double to left field off Eric Thames’ bat, when Adam Eaton lost it in the domed ceiling in Miller Park and had it fall in for a hit, 2-0.
A bases-loaded single by Orlando Arcia added two more runs in the bottom of the first, making it 4-0 Brewers early, and it took Hellickson 39 pitches total to get through the inning.
Moustakas hit a 1-0 cutter out to right for a two-run blast in the second, making it a 6-0 lead over the Nationals.
Hellickson hung around through four, throwing 99 pitches before Martinez went to the pen for Matt Grace in the bottom of the sixth inning of what ended up a 7-3 loss.
Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 99 P, 55 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
Martinez said the veteran right-hander’s struggles in the outing were “uncharacteristic”.
“Because he is usually around the strike zone,” the manager explained.
“There were some pitches that he felt were fairly close, but he usually attacks the strike zone and gets ahead of hitters, so when you fall behind on good hitters, they’re going to put a good swing on it.”
Hellickson said the rough first was, “... just a long inning. I mean, things like that happen and you’ve just got to pick guys up and try get out of there and minimize the damage as much as you can,” adding that it was, “... just one of those innings you want to forget about.”
And the Nationals’ 1-5 start to their 10-game road trip?
“Just forget about it and move on,” Hellickson said. “It’s a long season. Obviously things aren’t going the way we want right now, but we’ve just got to get back after it tomorrow.”