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Hellickson takes a step forward in second season

The SportsXchange

In Jeremy Hellickson's mind, he could have done more to help the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

However, 5 2/3 shutout innings were enough, as the reigning AL Rookie of the Year ended a string of five winless starts, going back to Aug. 20, with a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

It's been an odd year for Hellickson, whom some critics felt was lucky last season since his sabermetric numbers didn't square with his successful results.

Manager Joe Maddon has said several times that Hellickson has had better stuff this season, specially a better fastball, but even with Sunday's win, he has only a 9-10 record.

He did, however, lower his ERA to 3.20, which is the seventh best in the American League.

If anything, Hellickson hasn't had much luck this season, as he has allowed three runs or fewer in 25 starts (third most in the AL) out of 29, and he has only the nine wins to show for it.

On the other hand, he has had trouble getting deep into games this season, as he has failed to complete six innings in 12 of his starts, including nine of his last 18, and he has gotten to the 100-pitch mark only one in his last 13 starts.

On Sunday, he left with the bases loaded in the sixth, and he felt a little bad about it since the Rays 'pen had been taxed on Saturday.

"I tried to go as deep as I could," he said. "I ran into some trouble in the sixth and the bullpen came in and did what they been doing the whole year."
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