Tim Hudson pitched his first season for the Atlanta Braves in 2005. Buster Posey graduated from Lee County High School in 2005. It’s a fact Posey said he won’t hesitate to bring up with the 39-year-old right-hander.
“All the time,” Posey said, grinning.
Posey grew up a Braves fan, so technically he can say he watched Hudson pitch for his childhood team while he was still in high school. Friday night, he was behind the plate when Hudson, another Georgia native, beat his former team for the first time in his long major-league career.
Hudson allowed one run over seven innings in the Giants’ 4-2 win over the Braves, and earned his 217th career win. He now has at least one against every team but the one with whom he broke into the big leagues, the A’s. The Giants face Oakland two more times this season, so he may well get a shot.
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“I didn’t know that,” Posey said about Hudson earning his first win against Atlanta. “You get 220 wins, or whatever he’s got, the odds are in your favor to do it eventually, I guess, if you move around. But it just goes to show you, I mean, I’m such a big fan of Huddy. I’m always amazed at what he brings to the table every time out there.
“If I can be a fan of somebody while playing with him, he’s the guy that I’m a fan of.”
Some of that, Posey said, might stem from the fact he did watch Hudson pitch while still a teenager.
“But I think, too, I just have an appreciation for what his body goes through,” Posey said. “Him being almost 40, and knowing how difficult it is for him to be ready, and just going out there every fifth day and giving us a chance to win.”
Hudson hadn’t done a good job of that in his last start. In a rain-delayed game against the Rockies in Colorado last week, he allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 innings and departed down 8-0. He acknowledged Friday night that he “didn’t feel great” physically during that start. Manager Bruce Bochy said the weather and Hudson’s having to wait out the delay likely played a part.
“He’s not a kid anymore,” Bochy said Friday. “I do think that affected him, but he did a nice job of bouncing back today and really had a good breaking ball, a good slider and a change, hit his spots and got his ground balls. It was a Huddy-like performance today.”
As Bochy indicated, that meant a lot of ground balls. Hudson induced an inning-ending double play in the first and allowed his lone run in the third when, with runners on first and third and two outs, Cameron Maybin hit a comebacker that ricocheted off Hudson to shortstop Brandon Crawford. Crawford barehanded the ball but made a low throw to first that Brandon Belt couldn’t dig out of the dirt, as Andrelton Simmons scored from third.
Hudson, though, preserved a 2-1 lead by getting Freddie Freeman to ground out. He did not allow another runner past first base while retiring 12 of his final 13 hitters. He threw just 83 pitches over seven innings before being replaced by a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh with two runners on and the Giants looking to add to their lead.
“I thought he got better as the game went on,” Posey said. “He did a nice job of getting the off-speed over for strikes, and moved the sinker around, mixed in the four-seamers when he needed to. And he was really efficient.”
Though he spent eight seasons with the Braves, and still has friends on the team, Hudson said any nostalgia had dissipated by first pitch.
“It’s a cool idea leading up to the game,” he said. “But once the game starts and you get between the lines, they’re trying to knock me out of the game and I’m trying to get them out. It’s all business.”
It was probably more off-putting, Hudson said, for his friends and relatives back home, many of whom he said are still Braves fans.
“Not tonight, obviously,” he added, smiling. “And not this whole series. But it was, I’m sure for those guys back home, it was probably a little strange for them.”
For Hudson – who’d faced the Braves just once in his career while with the A’s, getting a no decision after eight innings – it was another win, another rebound from a tough outing and another team to cross off the list of career conquests. If he was keeping one, that is.
“Tonight was a pretty solid night for me overall, and I felt like I gave us a pretty good chance to win, obviously against a club that I have a tremendous amount of respect for and an organization that I spent a lot of my life with,” Hudson said. “So it was fun.”
▪ It was a pretty solid night overall for the Giants. They recorded their 21st win of May, the first time they’ve had a 21-win month since August 1968. They still have two games left to try to make it the franchise’s winningest month since the 1954 team went 24-4 in June.
Also, the Dodgers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0. And with that, the Giants moved a half-game ahead of Los Angeles for first place in the National League West – the first time they’ve had a share of first place since Opening Day. A team that had an eight-game losing streak in April made that ground up awfully fast.
“It’s nice to have worked our way back up to the top of our division,” Hudson said. “The Dodgers are a great club and they have a lot of talent over there. But we feel like we’re a team that can beat anybody on any given night, regardless of who we’re playing against.”
At the same time, Hudson acknowledged: “It’s a long year. (But) it’s nice to win some ballgames, and start getting some momentum going in the right direction.”
▪ The Giants have won 15 of their last 18 games at home. Their starting rotation’s ERA over that span: 1.90.
Giants pitchers entered Friday with a 37-inning scoreless streak at AT&T Park, which Hudson ran to 39 innings before the Braves scored in the third. That equals the longest home scoreless streak for the franchise since 1912, matching the 1948 New York Giants.
Brandon Crawford sealed it by making an over-the-shoulder catch of A.J. Pierzynski’s flare into left-center for the final out of the second inning. This series features two of the league’s better defensive shortstops in Crawford and Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons – a subplot you can read about here.
▪ During an early between-innings break, the crowd at AT&T Park broke into cheers as highlights of Golden State Warriors point guard and recently named NBA MVP Stephen Curry were shown on the video board. When the camera cut to Curry sitting in the front row near the Giants’ dugout, wearing Giants gear, the crowd exploded.
That included chants of “M-V-P!” that, for once at AT&T Park, were not directed toward Posey. Posey said he did get a chance to talk briefly with Curry before the game, and he was glad to have Curry in the house.
“It was cool,” Posey said. “You could tell there was a little extra electricity in the air – everybody was excited that he was here. Obviously, they got the biggest games coming up for them in about a week, I guess … I’m definitely pulling for him, for all of them.”
Posey sent a jolt of his own through the crowd with his first-inning home run off of Mike Foltynewicz, a two-run shot to left on a first-pitch, 95 mph fastball. Foltynewicz was constantly in the mid-90s with his fastball Friday night and reached the upper 90s, so Posey said he had an idea of what he was looking for.
“Anytime somebody’s throwing in the upper 90s,” he said, “you’ve gotta be ready for the fastball at some point.”
* Game 3 of the series Saturday has Tim Lincecum (5-2, 2.56) opposing Braves right-hander Williams Perez (0-0, 4.05). First pitch at 7:05 p.m.