There have now been two games in major-league postseason history that have lasted 18 innings. Tim Hudson has started both of them.
Hudson pitched the first 7 1/3 innings of the Giants’ marathon 2-1 win over the Nationals in Game 2 of the N.L. Division Series on Saturday. The only previous playoff game to go 18 innings was the Oct. 9, 2005 NLDS Game 4 between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves, which Hudson started for Atlanta.
“They’re just long games,” Hudson said with a shrug late Saturday night. “This one was obviously much more of a pitcher’s duel. A lot of pressure pitches. Our bullpen really stepped up.”
The Astros won that 2005 game, 7-6, to knock Hudson’s Braves out of the playoffs. It extended a run of bad playoff fortune for the veteran right-hander: Hudson has been on six teams that have reached the Division Series, and none have advanced.
That included the 2001 Oakland A’s, who were up 2-0 on the New York Yankees in the ALDS before losing the series in five. For that reason, Hudson was reserved when asked about the Giants having a chance to clinch this series when it resumes in San Francisco on Monday.
“Obviously going up 2-0 is great,” he said. “We can’t take it for granted, though. We went up 2-0 in Oakland and weren’t able to hold on, so I understand that just because you win the first two on the road, it doesn’t mean anything. You have to seal up one more.”
Hudson is still searching for his first postseason win since that 2001 ALDS, when he was the winning pitcher in Game 2. But he saw his teams’ record in his playoff starts improve to 3-8 on Saturday, and afterward lauded credit upon the Giants’ bullpen, which pitched 10 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Hudson.
“It’s sudden death, there’s no room for error,” Hudson said. “You have to never give in, in a situation like that. … That makes it even more remarkable the job they did, making those tough pitches in tough situations.”
In fact, Casilla, who earned his first career postseason save in the Giants’ 3-2 win Friday in Game 1, afterward shared an interesting take on his ninth-inning role. Casilla said he prefers not to think of himself as a closer at all.
“When you think you have to close a game,” he said, “it makes a lot of pressure.”
Instead, Casilla said he tries to treat the ninth as simply his inning, rather than the final three outs of a game. “Ninth, eighth, seventh, I don’t care,” Casilla said. “I like pitching.”
It’s a departure from the typical image of a closer as needing to have a certain wild streak to deal with the pressure of save situations. But manager Bruce Bochy said Casilla, who converted 19 of 23 save chances this season and has closed for the Giants in the past, has the right mentality for the job.
“He may not have the personality of Wilson or Romo or some of these guys, but he has an edge to him, a little bit more than you’d think,” Bochy said. “He’s all about winning.”