Jeremy Hellickson was cruising Sunday afternoon, limiting the Nationals to one hit over five shutout innings when a strange sensation in his forearms caused an early exit.
It was the first time Hellickson had ever felt this during a game. When he went out for the sixth inning, his left forearm went numb. Then his right forearm did the same, and after each subsequent warmup pitch his hand curled up and he couldn't even straighten his fingers.
Hellickson felt better shortly after leaving the game and said he's "good now."
He thinks it was caused by dehydration.
It was pretty frustrating for Hellickson, who's now left each of his first two starts after just five innings because of unforeseen circumstances. In the season opener, he legged out a triple, struggled to catch his breath and was removed after one batter in the next inning.
Adding to the frustration is that he's pitched extremely well both times, allowing only one run in 10 innings with very low pitch counts.
"Especially in a series-clinching game," Hellickson said after Sunday's 4-3 walk-off win over the Nationals. "I felt like I could have gone seven, eight (innings) for sure. To put our bullpen in a spot like that isn't what I wanted to do. But I just couldn't throw, it was weird."
The Phillies' first three relievers -- Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek and Hector Neris -- did their job, putting up zeroes to pave way for what looked like a sharp, 3-0 win. Then Jeanmar Gomez had another ugly outing in what is likely his last save opportunity.
Gomez's blown save prevented Hellickson from picking up win No. 2, but it also set the stage for Cesar Hernandez's dramatic, broken-bat, walk-off single.
It was the second time in three games against the Nationals that the Phillies came back from being demoralized. On Friday, they trailed 7-0 before making it a 7-6 game and getting the winning run to the plate. On Sunday, they came right back to win after giving up the lead.
"Yeah, absolutely," Hellickson said when asked if he expected those ninth-inning heroics. "Two days in a row (actually two out of three), we've come back like that and shown we're not gonna quit. It's a fun team to watch. We're probably going to do that a lot this year."