Programming note: For comprehensive Giants-Nationals coverage from Washington, watch ‘October Quest’ today at 11 a.m. and immediately following the game on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
WASHINGTON – Tim Hudson leaned forward into his chair and smiled. He knew this question was coming.
“Tim, you were quoted the other night as questioning the Nationals' heart, I guess would be the interpretation,” a reporter asked. “Could explain … exactly what you were trying to say?”
“I was absolutely not questioning their heart or their intestinal fortitude,” Hudson responded.
Well, of course he wasn’t. Anyone with a basic knowledge of human anatomy would know that much.
Hudson appeared to be referring to another body part when, amid the wild card celebration Wednesday in Pittsburgh, he said this:
“Obviously they have a talented group over there. There’s no question. They have some great pitching. But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs? That’s going to take you real far. And I think we’ve got a group in here that really has some of that.”
After being taken to task by Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell, who trotted out the fact that Hudson’s teams are 0-6 in NL Division Series, Hudson attempted to clarify his comments in advance of his start in Game 2 on Saturday.
“I was referring to our team,” said Hudson, who will oppose right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. “Obviously, they have a lot of talent over there. They have some guys who know how to play the game and play the game hard. It is easy to go out there and win when you have a group like that.
“I was speaking on our behalf, on our team. I feel like we have a team that can go out there, grind things out. I feel like we play tough baseball. We have guys who are tough as nails in the locker room. That is what I was referring to. Obviously, things have a tendency to get turned around a little bit when comments like that are made. I was referring to our club, not theirs. I don't think of their team like that. I am talking about what we have in our locker room. The guys we have in the locker room, they come with it. It is an honor to be on the field with those guys.”
So now that we have established Hudson does not think the Nationals are eunuchs … what about the way he’s nipped them over his career? What about that 18-5 record and 2.35 ERA in 31 starts against them? What about the fact that the Giants went 2-5 against the Nationals, and their only two wins came in Hudson’s starts? Or that he held them to a run in 12 1/3 innings in those two outings?
“There is obviously a lot of history between myself and these guys, going back a lot of years from when I was with Atlanta,” Hudson said. “Obviously, they are a different club than what I faced early on in my career. They are a really good ballclub. They have a lot of talent. For me, it is no secret, what they are about. it is no secret to them what I am about.
“It’s all about making pitches, coming up with a good game plan, try to keep the guys off balance, and execute pitches. You know, if that can happen, then things will be okay.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy could have defended going with Ryan Vogelsong, a proven postseason bulldog, in Game 2. He could have defended starting Yusmeiro Petit, who threw the best down the stretch. He easily could have bypassed Hudson on the basis of an 8.72 ERA in September. But he liked the first few innings of the 39-year-old right-hander’s final regular-season start at Dodger Stadium.
“It looked like he was healthy again, able to execute his pitches,” Bochy said. “You have to like his experience. Huddy is such a pro in how he goes about his business, how he prepares. All of them are.
“I think his biggest issue is that his hip was bothering him. I think he is over that really.”
Hudson said he’ll go into his start feeling good. He’d better be, since Zimmermann is still flying after throwing a no-hitter in his final regular-season start Sunday. Of course, the last time the Giants faced a pitcher in the postseason who was coming off a no-hitter, they managed to beat Roy Halladay at Philadelphia and win the NL pennant in 2010.
Hudson, who has more victories than any active pitcher, just wants to get past the Division Series for once. (For his whole epic poem of October woe, read the story I wrote about him in the spring.)
“Going into my last start in L.A., I felt we got a good handle on some things mechanically,” Hudson said. “I felt like I was airing some things out, going into the last start. I feel really good physically, and where I am mechanically.”