Right-hander has been a model of consistency on San Francisco's staff
ST. LOUIS -- Reliable, consistent, trustworthy, efficient, modest, and an outstanding role model for the rest of the group. That's basically an Eagle Scout, but it's also Tim Hudson.
Hudson continued a season of consistently superior performances Sunday for the San Francisco Giants. He stopped the St. Louis Cardinals cold, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits. The Giants won, 8-0, thus taking three out of four games at Busch Stadium.
Hudson's 2014 season to date amounts to this: He has made the outstanding into the routine.
He is now 6-2 with a 1.75 earned run average. This was the ninth time in 11 starts in which he pitched seven or more innings. But that just scratches the surface.
He has walked only eight batters in 77 1/3 innings. When he walked two on Sunday he matched his single-game season high. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 6.25. He came into the game averaging 13 pitches per inning, the lowest average per inning in the Majors. Sunday's 101 pitches over seven innings, a 14.4 average, would be a splendid performance for the vast majority of pitchers. For Hudson it was, slightly sub-standard.
The Giants have come to depend upon Hudson. Catcher Buster Posey is, understandably, a big supporter. "He works quick, he keeps the ball down, changes speed so well," Posey said of Hudson. "You feel really good every time he's out there."
Manager Bruce Bochy also fully appreciates the quality of Hudson's work. "Great job, great job, and he got better as he went," Bochy said of this performance by Hudson. "Early, at times, he had trouble getting it where he wanted it. But he's been so good. He adjusted and he got in a good groove. I thought he did a great job.
"Against this club, seven shutout innings, you're doing something."
Hudson, typically, was unassuming regarding his performance. He credited his offense for getting four first-inning runs and giving him breathing room.
"That's something a starting pitcher always welcomes is early runs," he said. "You can try to pound the strike zone, and you don't have to pitch to the corners so much. A four-run lead is more than anybody could ever ask. It was a nice day for us all the way around."
The last time Hudson gave up more than two earned runs in an outing was April 13 (four against Colorado in 7 1/3 innings). That was also the only time this season Hudson gave up more than two earned runs.
But just as Hudson was modest about Sunday's performance, he was modest about all of his work so far this season. Asked what had allowed him to be so successful, he responded:
"That's hard to say. Just missing barrels. Putting balls in play and I'm able to stay out of the middle of the plate. I'm not going to lie. There comes some luck with it. There were some balls that were hit pretty hard today, but right to some guys.
"You've got to try to be aggressive and try to make the other team earn whatever it gets. And we've got a really good defense. They can cover some ground out there. It's nice to be aggressive and let those guys make some plays behind me."
One thing bothered Hudson about Sunday's start. That happened in the third when a fastball that was supposed to be inside got away from him and struck Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig in the helmet. Fortunately, Craig was unhurt and remained in the game through the sixth inning.
"Obviously, it was something nobody ever wants to see," Hudson said. "He's a tough son of a gun. It got him really good and it scared the crap out of me. But he shook it off pretty good. I was just trying to throw a fastball inside to him. I hadn't thrown a fastball inside to him all day and I really, honestly don't know what happened. It just came out and went right to him. I'm just really glad he's all right."
Hudson made a point of talking to Craig after the Cardinals finished hitting in the bottom of the third.
"I just wanted to reiterate to him that there's never any intent with something like that," Hudson said. "You're just glad that he's OK. You hate that it happened, but at least you're glad that nobody got hurt."
Typically when Hudson pitches this season, what gets hurt is the opponent's winning percentage. There were some raised eyebrows when the Giants gave Hudson a two year, $23-million contract. He was, after all, 38, coming off a year in which a fractured ankle cost him the last two-plus months of the season.
But that acquisition is now looking like the work of genius. Tim Hudson has been everything the Giants could have hoped, and maybe even more.