He was not credited with the decision, but Hellickson only allowed one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. His ERA has dipped to 2.13.
Franchy Cordero’s solo homer in the fourth was the extent of the scoring for the Padres.
It appeared that the Padres might have figured out what Hellickson was doing after facing him recently. The first time through the order, they were hitting the ball hard. But a lot of the hot shots were right at people. His defense came up big.
Hellickson said the time off - he hadn’t pitched since May 13 - did not help his rhythm.
“Felt OK. I mean it’s tough to take 10 days off,” Hellickson said. “I think I threw five innings in 10 days. I was 1-0 more than I would like. (Working) 5 1/3 and one run, can’t really complain about that. Made a lot of good plays. There was a lot of balls hit right at guys that made some good plays on, but it didn’t take a while to find that command again.”
So did Hellickson think the Padres knew what he was going to do? Did he believe he needed to scrap his pregame strategy after two of the first three batters reached base?
“I stuck with the same game plan,” he said. “I probably could have switched up a little bit. A lot of curveballs, changeups again. I felt like they were on some curveballs. I’m not going to change my game plan too much.”
Catcher Pedro Severino said he did need Hellickson to alter some of his pitch choices.
“We faced that team before, and he almost throw a complete game,” Severino said. “Today, they know he likes to throw a lot of off-speed, like changeup, breaking ball. I think they were looking for those pitches all day. So I told him we had to throw more fastballs, locate more fastballs, and that’s what we did today. When we used those pitches, it worked better.”
Then, in the sixth, a blister ended Hellickson’s night.
“He had a blister,” said manager Davey Martinez. “He had the same thing his last outing, too. His finger kind of gets soft and for about five days they treat it and they get it and he’s fine. And then all of a sudden, over the course of the game, it does the same thing. But sometimes it’s worse than others. When he looked in the dugout, I knew exactly he had that blister back.”
Hellickson said the blister didn’t get painful until the very end.
“It wasn’t a problem until the last two batters,” Hellickson said. “Felt it on that changeup that I threw about 55 feet. I threw a couple of curveballs after that that I couldn’t pull down on. Just couldn’t feel the ball on my finger.”
Does Hellickson think that this blister will heal enough in five days?
“It’s tough to say right now,” Hellickson said. “We’ll know more probably Friday during bullpen, but haven’t really dealt with a blister in three, four years. So we will treat it and see how it is Friday.”
The Nats hope that the blister does not become an issue either because Hellickson has been outstanding. He has allowed two runs or less in six of his seven starts.