WASHINGTON -- Tim Hudson has a high standard to try to uphold when he takes the mound for the Giants this evening in Game 2 of the N.L. Division Series.
During their current nine-game postseason winning streak, the Giants’ starting pitching has been historically good. Giants starters are 8-0 in those nine games with a 0.75 ERA and have held opposing hitters to a .182 average.
The 0.75 ERA is the second-lowest ever by a major league team’s starting rotation over a nine-game playoff span, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, behind only the 0.63 mark the Cleveland Indians posted in nine World Series games from 1920 to 1948.
If nothing else, the Giants would at least like to see the early-season version of Hudson rather than the pitcher who struggled in September. Hudson has an 8.72 ERA in the last month of the season, but manager Bruce Bochy said he thinks that was due largely to the right-hander having some issues with his hip.
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Bochy said Hudson’s last start in Los Angeles was "more the Huddy that we know. His pitches were crisp, command was better. So hopefully that is the guy we will see today."
Bochy was also asked today what he thinks about his team owning the longest playoff winning streak in National League history. With their 3-2 win over the Nationals in Game 1, the Giants passed the previous record of eight held by the Cincinnati Reds.
"It is humbling to have your club discussed in the same boat as the Big Red Machine," Bochy said.
"It has been a group of different guys that has found a way to get it done. The streak is great. But there’s so much baseball ahead of us. We’ve played one game in this series, so these guys aren’t thinking about that as much as what they need to do today."
The Giants are going with the same lineup today as in Game 1:
And the Nationals’ lineup against Hudson:
* Zimmermann is coming off throwing a no-hitter against the Marlins on the last day of the regular season and has been tough on the Giants in recent seasons. In six starts since the beginning of the 2011 season, the right-hander has gone 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA.
As good as Game 1 starter Stephen Strasburg has been, Zimmermann has been perhaps the Nationals’ most consistent starter over the past couple months, at least in one area. The Nationals have won Zimmermann’s last 11 starts, and their opponents have scored more than three runs in just three of those games.
* One thing Bochy wasn’t asked about last night after the opener was his decision to bring rookie Hunter Strickland into a bases-loaded, two-out situation in a 2-0 game in the sixth. Strickland, who made his major-league debut on Sept. 1, struck out Ian Desmond for arguably the biggest out of the game.
"Well, the kid has done a great job since he’s come up here," Bochy said. "And I know one thing, he’s not afraid, too. We could tell that from the first time we saw him throw for us."
Bochy mentioned that along with the high-90s fastball -- which reached 100 mph on the final strike to Desmond -- Strickland also has a slider and split-finger, neither of which he used much in his postseason debut. Bochy remarked that Strickland "probably wishes he mixed in a couple that next inning" -- the right-hander surrendered home runs to Bryce Harper and Asdrubal Cabrera on fastballs in the seventh.
Bochy did, though, acknowledge that he put Strickland in an unfamiliar position. It was the first time since joining the Giants that Strickland has entered a game, finished an inning and gone back out to start the next one. "My guess is he hasn’t done that a lot since his Tommy John surgery," Bochy said.
* A few items from the Giants’ pre-game notes:
During their nine-game postseason winning streak, the Giants have outscored opponents by a combined total of 47-9 and recorded five shutouts. The longest such winning streak in major-league history is 12, held by New York Yankees teams from 1927-32 and from 1998-99.
Pablo Sandoval’s 12-game playoff hitting streak, which he extended with a fourth-inning single yesterday, is five shy of the MLB record shared by Hank Bauer, Derek Jeter and Manny Ramirez. It’s also one more than the previous Giants record shared by Irish Meusel and Marco Scutaro.
The Giants clarified that Joe Panik’s five hits in his first two career playoff games is a San Francisco Giants record, not a franchise record. The Giants franchise mark is seven, held by Monte Irvin.
Panik is, however, only the second player ever to have at least five hits in his first two playoff games during his first season in the majors. The other was Chad Fonville of the Dodgers in 1995.