The final pitch of Tim Hudson’s major-league career resulted in a sharp line-drive single to center field off the bat of Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick. The numbers will show that Hudson was not a pitcher who relied on swings and misses, on overpowering hitters, especially in his final season with the Giants. Yet there he was Thursday afternoon, toeing a mound at age 40, cutting and sinking his pitches, daring hitters to beat him until the very end.
The Dodgers did hand Hudson a loss in his farewell outing, beating the Giants 3-2 at AT&T Park. But it did little to subdue the standing ovation Hudson received as he left the mound in the third inning, marking the end of his 17-season career.
As manager Bruce Bochy approached the mound, Hudson exchanged hugs and handshakes with his infielders and his manager. Hudson raised his cap to the announced crowd of 41,027 as he walked to the dugout, then toward the visiting dugout, where the Dodgers stood near the railing and applauded. At the home dugout, the Giants filed out to form a receiving line to congratulate Hudson, who flung his hat into the stands when he reached the end.
I’ve had so much fun over the last 17 years, and today was a really special day for me. The way the fans responded, the way my teammates responded, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I’m very grateful for all of it.
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“I was surprised how good I was able to hold it together there,” Hudson said. “I’ve had so much fun over the last 17 years, and today was a really special day for me. The way the fans responded, the way my teammates responded, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I’m very grateful for all of it.”
Hudson will retire as the majors’ active wins leader with a career record of 222-133 and 3.49 ERA, the wins tied for 73rd all-time. He allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings Thursday with one strikeout, the 2,080th of his career, freezing 21-year-old Corey Seager on a full-count cutter in the second inning.
“It was a little emotional,” Bochy said. “They’ll be talking about the Hall of Fame with this guy. And it’s been an honor.”
Bochy replaced Hudson with reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and joked it reminded him of Game 7 of last year’s World Series, when he brought Affeldt in for a struggling Hudson in the second inning in Kansas City, Mo. This time, Affeldt inherited two runners and allowed both to score. Adrian Gonzalez hit a soft RBI single, and Andre Ethier’s grounder scored another run as first baseman Buster Posey’s throw home came in high, allowing Kendrick to slide in safely.
“I was kidding with (Affeldt), I’m glad it went better in the seventh game than today,” Bochy said.
It made for an extended retirement party on the Giants’ mound, though, given that Affeldt announced earlier Thursday he too will retire after the season. Affeldt has pitched 14 seasons in the majors, including the past seven in San Francisco, where he was a key part of three World Series championship teams.
22 Consecutive postseason games in which Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt did not allow a run
Affeldt has a 3.07 ERA in 413 career appearances for the Giants but will be remembered best for his postseason contributions. From Game 3 of the 2010 World Series through his critical Game 7 appearance last year against the Royals, Affeldt did not allow a run in 22 consecutive postseason games, the second-longest such streak behind only Yankees great Mariano Rivera. He pitched 23 1/3 innings in that span and allowed 11 hits.
Affeldt announced his pending retirement at a news conference before Thursday’s game, saying a desire to spend more time with his family played a key role in his decision. This season was difficult for Affeldt, who missed time to injuries, has a 5.97 ERA and said he considered walking away at midseason.
“Sometimes when you’re too old to play you need to leave,” said Affeldt, 36. “I feel right now that I need to leave. I’m walking around, they have to tape me together just to be able to get me out there. So it’s time to leave. It’s time to let someone else have a chance to play.”
Affeldt warmed up Thursday amid the extended ovation for Hudson, who afterward said he believes Affeldt “deserves just as much fanfare as I’ve gotten the last week or so.”
“I was really happy,” Hudson said, “that he came in after me.”