Jeremy Hellickson tosses first career complete game shutout

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We’ve seen some excellent performances from the likes of Michael Pineda and Zach Britton so far this season, so Jeremy Hellickson has somewhat flown under the radar among rookie starting pitchers in the American League. Not anymore.

Hellickson tossed his first career complete game shutout in a 4-0 win over the Orioles last night. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up just four hits — three of them singles — while fanning three and walking just one.

The rookie hurler needed 120 pitches to finish off the Orioles, which surpassed his previous career-high of 107 pitches from an outing against the Twins on April 28. Last night was the first time that Hellickson had tossed even more than seven innings in a game.

Now that he’s gone the distance, Rays manager Joe Maddon tells Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that Hellickson has merely scratched the surface on his potential.

“With a young pitcher like that, to throw a complete-game shutout can really catapult him into the next level,” Maddon said. “That’s the kind of moment right there that can really make Jeremy take off. … Because once you’ve done it, you know you can do it in the future and you know what it feels like to do it. … That’s a good way to teach yourself a lesson right there.”

Hellickson now sits at 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 30/18 K/BB ratio over his first seven starts this season. He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last 14 innings.

Howie Kendrick to undergo an MRI after exiting game with a serious leg injury

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Update, 7:49 PM ET: The Nationals placed Howie Kendrick on the 10-day disabled list with a right Achilles injury. In a corresponding move, right-hander Jefry Rodriguez was recalled from Double-A Potomac.

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Nationals left fielder Howie Kendrick was removed from the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Dodgers after injuring his right leg. In the eighth inning, Kendrick tracked a Max Muncy sac fly to the wall, but landed strangely on his right leg and fell to the ground. Unable to put weight on it, he was forced to exit the field on a cart and was sent to undergo an MRI soon afterward, the results of which have yet to be revealed.

While the Nationals have not specified the nature or severity of Kendrick’s injury, Martinez revealed that it’s located in the “lower part” of the outfielder’s leg and appears to be quite severe. He’ll likely be placed on the 10-day disabled list in the next couple of days, though the recovery process could take even longer.

Prior to the incident, Kendrick was off to a hot start this season. Entering Saturday’s doubleheader, he carried a batting line of .302/.331/.477 with 18 extra-base hits and an .808 OPS in 157 plate appearances. He went 1-for-3 on Saturday with a base hit in the seventh inning. Andrew Stevenson subbed in for Kendrick following the injury and has been tabbed to start in left field for the second game of the doubleheader at 8:05 PM ET.