Tim Hudson’s first career win was a seven-inning outing over the Dodgers on June 13, 1999. The A’s smothered them 9-3 and Huddy gave up one earned run and fanned eight that night.
For but a brief moment Thursday — as he toed the rubber one last time to knowing applause before ending the first by forcing Adrian Gonzalez into a double play — it felt like Huddy would come full circle. He’s defied age enough this season; his final moment could be a win over the Dodgers.
But then 17 years of reality came crashing down. Huddy’s aching — he’d lasted just 1-1/3 innings in the celebratory Hudson-Zito showdown last week — and Bruce Bochy had Jeremy Affeldt and Ryan Vogelsong on call basically before the game started.
Huddy lasted a little longer today, at least. He gave up three hits and a run in 2-1/3 innings and 45 pitches in the Dodgers’ 3-2 win on Thursday afternoon. Said Bochy:
“He seemed ramped up, good to go out there. I’m sure a lot was going through his mind, realizing ‘this is it.’”
But the day was not a sad one, even though Jeremy Affeldt addressed the media with a few tears in his eyes as he announced his retirement after 14 years in the league.
The Giants, their sellout crowd, and everyone at home got to see a potential Hall of Famer hurl his last pitch — which Howie Kendrick cranked for a single. Hudson kept it cool during his last post-game media time. He was prepared:
“Obviously I was surprised how good I was able to hold it together there. The last couple weeks have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. But it’s been fun. I’ve had so much fun over the last 17 years, and today was a special day for me.”
Bruce Bochy took the ball and Hudson donned his cap to the air and then to his heart as he waved to his standing ovation:
“These are the best baseball fans and, my opinion, best sports fans there are around. It was very special for me, my family. Wish we woulda won the ball game, wish things would have ended on a better note.”
Madison Bumgarner was the first to greet him, with a huge hug, and the rest of the Giants left the dugout to get their hugs in. Hudson spoke highly of his final club:
“I have the best teammates I think I’ve ever played with so it made things really easy for me today…I’ve been able to make some relationships, friendships with these guys that will last forever. I know i’ve only spent two years here but the impact of the friendships I have here are gonna be some of the best I’ve had in baseball through the 17 years I’ve played.”
“It was a little emotional. You’re with a guy that’s had a tremendous career, you talk about hall of fame with this guy and its been an honor. We’re out in front of the dugout, on the field, they were all hugging him. It was a special moment.”
The Dodgers crept up to the top steps of their dugout to salute the veteran.
Hudson (L, 8-9, 4.44 ERA) took his final loss today, capping a career 133, but he still has three more days as the winningest active pitcher in the Majors. His 222 wins puts him 73rd in the all-time ranks.
His final career line: 3.49 ERA, 3,126 innings, 2,080 strikeouts. He started 479 games.
Over all those years — the four All Star games, the Big Three days, his years back home in Georgia — one moment not too long ago stuck out:
“Since I’ve been here, definitely the World Series last year … I never would have dreamed that things unfolded the way I hoped they would. Last year was a special year where things happened how I hoped they would.”
The Dodgers’ runs came in the second and third innings. Hudson gave up a triple to Andre Ethier that bounced off Marlon Byrd’s glove deep in they alley. Chase Utley pumped a sac fly to put L.A. on the board.
Huddy left Affeldt two base runners in the mid-third — starter Brett Anderson notched a two-strike single before Kendrick sent him packing. Gonzalez cracked an RBI single off Affeldt and Tomlinson’s throw home on an Ethier ground ball was too late to get Kendrick, who scored to put the Dodgers up 3-0.
The Giants posed a comeback in the eighth. Jarrett Parker led off the first with a lucky single and advanced to second on Trevor Brown’s out. Pinch hitter Angel Pagan took him home with a single. Kelby Tomlinson cut the Dodgers’ lead to one with an RBI single to right. But that was all she wrote.
Ryan Vogelsong kept hope alive allowing just one hit in a four-inning, six-strikeout outing — the most a Giant has dealt in relief since Yusmeiro Petit did it in April of 2014. A ‘Hey guys, I’m not retiring!’ kind of statement:
“Oh I’m playing. I’m playing somewhere. First and foremost I don’t think I’m done, and I think today proved that.”
Vogey said he’s spent some long hours looking over tape, identifying tweaks he could make to get himself back to his 2011, 2012 form. Something clicked today, said Bochy:
“Yeah he threw great didn’t he. He should feel good about that outing … I talked to him a little bit after the outing and he was really excited about how he felt.”
Vogey, who is a free agent after this season, said he wants to come back to the Giants. But he’s not convinced they will take him given the limited time he’s had on the mound once Jake Peavy, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson returned from injury:
“I’m probably not on the high priority list. And I hate to say that. That being said, crazier things have happened.”
The Giants have always been particularly generous to guys like Vogelsong. With a lot of cheap position player depth potentially returning to the roster next season, who’s not to say that he’ll get a short contract?
If not, said Vogelsong:
“If that was the last one it was good way to go out.”