Washington Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson was not as sharp as a tack today — he walked four guys — but he had no-hitter going against the Chicago Cubs through the first five and two-thirds innings of this afternoon’s contest. And then he was lifted for a reliever.
It’s not hard to blame Nats manager Dave Martinez for taking him out. He managed two outs in the inning but he also walked the bases loaded, with the last hitter he faced — Ben Zobrist — walking on four straight pitches. Hellickson either lost the strike zone or lost confidence in his stuff. Either way, he was at 89 pitches, so the thing was not gonna happen anyway.
When he was lifted, the Nats were up 2-0. Then Sammy Solis came in to face Jason Heyward who promptly knocked in two with a solid single for the Cubs’ first hit of the game. It’s now tied up at two.
Life comes at you fast.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.