Hudson's pitch count zooms in short outing

August 4th, 2019

OAKLAND -- Given his recent troubles, the fact that starting pitcher kept the ball in the yard Saturday night should have been good news for the Cardinals.

Hudson, however, had difficulty keeping the ball in the strike zone, and that led to his undoing in an 8-3 loss to the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum. The loss, just the 11th in St. Louis’ last 29 games, dropped the Cardinals into second place in the National League Central, a half-game behind the Cubs.

“He got the call on the first batter of the game [Marcus Semien], a low strike,” catcher said of Hudson. “We didn’t get that call again. He can live down there if he gets the calls.”

Hudson, now 10-6 and the owner of a two-game losing streak, came into this start having allowed at least one homer in seven consecutive games, a total of 10 in all, including three his last time out against the Astros. Before that streak, he had seven straight starts without anyone taking him over the wall.

The A’s didn’t come close to taking him deep; Semien’s double was the only Oakland extra-base hit in Hudson’s 3 2/3 innings. But 20 of Hudson’s first 40 pitches missed the strike zone. In throwing 93 pitches in all, he walked five and hit a batter. The A’s scored twice in each of the first two innings.

“The five walks speak for themselves,” Hudson said. “It’s all about consistency. The movement was the most consistent I’ve had. But when I was missing down, I was missing by [the width of] a baseball. When I was missing up, it would kind of flatten out. The movement was there, it’s just where I was releasing the ball.

“I don’t have an excuse. I just think my sights are a little bit off right now, and if I get in the zone a little bit more and if I challenge hitters a little bit more consistently, it’ll be good.”

Saturday was the third time in the last seven starts that Hudson hasn’t made it to the fifth inning, something that had happened just twice in his first 15 starts this season.

The Cardinals are going to need Hudson to get back on the top of his game. With two months to go in the season, it seems likely they will be performing an intricate dance with the Cubs and the Brewers (three back after a 4-1 loss to the Cubs on Saturday) in the Central.

“We don’t want to be starting a road trip this deep in our bullpen. But he battled, battled through a high pitch count,” manager Mike Shildt said. “And we were in their bullpen earlier than they probably wanted to be. On our side, we had good at-bats, really long at-bats. We just got ourselves behind the eight-ball.

“You can talk about who we play, but ultimately it’s about us executing what we do. If we do that, it’ll work out more often than not.”

Even with the Cardinals down 5-2 in the seventh, confidence didn’t wane.

“I thought we were going to come back and win this one,” Wieters said.

But A’s pinch-hitter Chad Pinder clubbed a three-run homer in the seventh, and there wasn’t enough comeback in the Cardinals’ bats, even though they put seven men on base in the game’s final three innings.