After watching 40-year-old Tim Hudson hold a potent Diamondbacks lineup scoreless for six innings Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he asked Hudson if he’s reconsidering at all his plans to retire after this season.
“Not unless they want to go with a 10-man rotation,” Hudson said, chuckling. “I might reconsider.”
Assuming that isn’t in the Giants’ plans, Hudson is bringing his 17-season major-league career to an end on a high note. He recorded career win No. 222 as the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 5-1 and has looked rejuvenated since returning from a shoulder strain Sept. 1. In three starts, Hudson is 2-0 and has allowed two earned runs in 16 2/3 innings.
There are still times, though, in which Hudson feels his age. He completed his six innings in an efficient 70 pitches but said on an unusually warm afternoon at AT&T Park, it “felt like I’d thrown a lot more.” His right hip still “gets a little cranky every now and then” while he’s on the mound, though it mostly cooperated in an outing that was vintage Hudson.
The right-hander recorded 13 of his 18 outs by groundball or strikeout. He erased runners in the first and second innings with double plays and pitched out of a jam in the fourth by catching Welington Castillo looking on a slider to strand runners on first and third. While Hudson was improving a career win total that leads all active pitchers, he was working with a catcher, Trevor Brown, who was appearing in his first major-league win.
“Somebody came in and said, ‘Hey Huddy, how does it feel throwing to your kid?’ ” said Brown, 23.
Hudson said the first time he threw a ball to Brown was in warmups before the game. But they looked comfortable executing a pitchout in the fifth inning – called by the dugout – that caught Jake Lamb trying to steal second after a leadoff walk. And Hudson said the pitch-calling was just as smooth.
“The kid called a good game,” Hudson said. “I told him before the game just mix it up, call whatever he wants. If we throw something and get hurt by it, who cares?”
Brown, making his second major-league start, said it helped hearing that from a pitcher with Hudson’s experience.
“It’s him showing he’s got a little confidence in me,” Brown said. “It helps me go out and relax. … I felt like we really clicked. Especially for not ever catching him, I felt like we were on the same page out there.”
Hudson escaped another jam in the sixth: After Ender Inciarte singled with two outs and Paul Goldschmidt drew a seven-pitch walk, Hudson got David Peralta to pop out on an 0-1 pitch, leaving the mound to a loud ovation. It preserved a scoreless tie, with the Giants’ offense riding a 35-inning scoreless streak against Diamondbacks pitching. As he sat down in the dugout next to Buster Posey, Hudson said, he decided to rally the troops.
“I kinda nonchalantly said, ‘Come on boys, let’s get four right here,’ not really thinking we were going to get four,” Hudson said.
They got four. Angel Pagan led off the sixth with a single and scored on Alejandro De Aza’s double to left field, bringing in the Giants’ first run of the series. Matt Duffy walked to bring up Posey, who hit Randall Delgado’s 1-2 pitch into the seats in left-center field for a three-run homer.
“I guess sometimes you just gotta ask for it,” Hudson said, grinning. “If I’d have known it was that easy, I would’ve asked in the second.”
“Power of the mind, I guess,” Posey said.
Bochy said he decided before the inning to remove Hudson after the sixth, and that it was “good to see the guys wake up” with Hudson still in as the pitcher of record, allowing him to qualify for the win.
It’s unclear whether Sunday was Hudson’s final start at AT&T Park. He is on turn to pitch next weekend in Oakland, where he started his career, and Bochy said the Giants are still figuring out their rotation for their final homestand. Hudson, though, said he believes he’s scheduled for one more home start against the Dodgers in the final week.
“Honestly, probably if he wanted to keep pitching (beyond this year), he could do it,” Posey said. “He’s still got enough in the tank. He’s an ultimate competitor.”
But he’s also one who is seemingly content with his decision.
“Obviously, I don’t have many more of these (starts),” Hudson said. “So I’m taking each one as if it’s my last – going out and just having fun, making pitches, trying to have fun with it.”