For all the postseason pomp the Giants are almost certain to miss out on this year, at least one storyline remains.
Tim Hudson, who was struggling with a sore hip in his last start against Cincinnati, returned in full force Sunday afternoon for what could be his last start at AT&T Park.
Call it his final wind or a nostalgia-induced run to the finish line; whatever emotions are driving this, Hudson has had a stellar return from mid-season injury. In three starts this September, he’s given up 11 hits for two runs.
He’s returned to true Huddy form, dishing six scoreless innings on 70 pitches in the Giants’ 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on a scorching Sunday afternoon.
Huddy’s pitched so well that Bruce Bochy had an important question regarding his retirement:
“I asked him a couple minutes ago if he’s changing his mind, he’s throwing the ball so well.”
Buster Posey thinks he could keep chugging:
“I think, honestly, probably if he wanted to keep pitching he could do it. He’s still got enough in the tank.”
There’s only one way Huddy would return:
“If he wants to go to a 10-man rotation I might reconsider.”
The Giants bulldozed through last year’s postseason with a then ring-less Hudson partially driving them through. The team entered Saturday’s game looking to prevent a three-game home shutout — it would have been a first since a 1980 series against the Montreal Expos — and, perhaps, they had a little extra motivation with Huddy on the mound.
That motivation, as it turned out, wasn’t unspoken. Hudson told his team flat out what he wanted from them:
“I nonchalantly said ‘c’mon boys, let’s get four.’ So I guess sometimes you gotta ask for it.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, they did just that.
Angel Pagan cracked a leadoff single the other way before Alejandro De Aza jarred the gates with an RBI double down the third base line. Pagan scored and pumped his fist with signature exuberance. The run broke the Giants’ 24-inning overall scoreless streak and 35-inning drought against the Diamondbacks on their home turf.
Bruce Bochy said last night that he was confused at the Giants’ inability to score against the Diamondbacks at home; there was no glaring reason. Patrick Corbin and Rubby De La Rosa were puzzling, but not stifling.
Maybe all they needed was the monkey off their backs to get comfortable.
After De Aza and Duffy walked, Buster Posey nailed a two-strike floating changeup deep to left for his 19th homer of the season. The Giants left the sixth up 4-0. Posey and Huddy hugged in the dugout:
“It was power of the mind, I guess… It’s hard sometimes you start to press as an offense when you’re not scoring. Baseball’s tough like that. “
Posey continues his quiet, but perpetual presence in NL MVP talks. The favorite to win it, Bryce Harper, leads him in almost every facet — average, RBI, OBP — but Bochy said Buster has one big edge:
“He’s gonna be considered, trust me. Plus being a catcher, so much more difficult putting up those kind of numbers going behind the plate as much as he has. That’s what impressive.”
The four-run inning was Bochy’s cue to relieve Hudson; the overflowing bullpen could take over and Hudson could sit and wait on his 222nd win — most of all active pitchers in the Majors.
The Giants will begin their final road trip of the season tomorrow with a three-game series in San Diego before returning to the Bay for a three-gamer against the A’s. A much hoped-for showdown between Hudson and Barry Zito next weekend still looks possible, at least from the Giants’ end. Said Hudson:
“Looking forward to my next start in Oakland. It’s gonna be a lot of fun to go out there and take the mound at the place where I started my career. Looking forward to seeing those fans on that side of the Bay.”
And on the possible Zito matchup:
“If things work out, it’ll be a lot of fun for both of us. He’s been a great friend and great teammate with me for a lot of years. I’m glad they reconsidered and brought him up.”
Trevor Brown caught Hudson today, nailed his first baserunner stealing, and stole his first base after a walk in the third. … The Dodgers lost to the Pirates Sunday, putting the Giants at 7-1/2 games back in the West.