Jeremy Hellickson fans four batters in an inning

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Jeremy Hellickson struck out four batters in the third inning Thursday against the Tigers, becoming the first pitcher in Rays history to pull off the feat.

After Austin Jackson reached on a strike three/wild pitch to begin the inning, Hellickson fanned Ramon Santiago, Delmon Young and Victor Martinez in order.  Martinez was hitting in the cleanup spot that usually would have been occupied by Miguel Cabrera, who is away on paternity leave today.

Hellickson, a top candidate for AL Rookie of the Year honors, ended up allowing two runs over seven innings and striking out seven in the game.  Still, he’s in line for the loss, as Doug Fister is shutting out the Rays as of this writing.

Update: Detroit won 2-0, dropping Hellickson to 11-9 with his 3.01 ERA.  The Rays have scored a total of nine runs in his nine losses.

If there is an ALCS Game 7, Ric Flair will call out “Play Ball!”

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I don’t really care who wins the ALCS, but part of me wants to see it go seven games now. Why? Because if the Astros win tonight and force a Game 7, the series will be visited by a Rolex-wearin,’ kiss-stealin,’ wheelin-dealin,’ limousine ridin,’ jet flyin,’ son of a gun, jack! From the Chronicle:

The Astros-Yankees American League Championship Series gets to a Game 7, the Astros will have pro wrestling superstar Ric Flair call out “Play Ball!” before the game in a video message. Astros right fielder Josh Reddick is a huge wrestling fan and uses Flair’s entrance music every time he steps to the plate at Minute Maid Park. Fans also have adopted the wrestler’s “Woo!” yell throughout the season.

That’s pretty cool. It’d be even cooler if it ended with a Dusty Finish.