SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have now played 50 games, a stretch that includes an eight-game losing streak, and yet they’ll wake up Saturday all alone in first place in the National League West.
It’s too early to celebrate that fact, right-hander Tim Hudson said, but it’s never too early to appreciate how far you’ve come.
“It’s nice to have worked our way back up to the top of the division,” Hudson said. “Obviously the Dodgers are a great club and have a lot of talent, but we feel like we’re a team that can beat anybody on any given night.”
The reigning champs have shown that over the past month, going 21-7 in May and winning 13 of their last 15 games. This is their first 21-win month since 1968, and the success has come largely because of a pitching staff that is nearly impossible to beat at home right now.
Hudson wasn’t able to get a scoreless streak to 40 innings at AT&T Park, but he did get it to 39 -- tying the franchise record -- as he allowed just one run over seven innings of a 4-2 win over the Braves.
[Instant Replay: Posey powers Giants over Braves]
The win was Hudson’s first over the Braves, his team for nine years, and gave him victories over 29 of the 30 MLB teams. The only one team left on his list is the A’s, and Hudson may get another crack or two at the team that drafted him before the year is done.
Hudson’s first year in Atlanta was Buster Posey’s last year in high school in Georgia, and after catching Hudson on Friday, Posey said he roots for Hudson as much as you possibly could root for a teammate.
“I’m such a big fan of Huddy,” Posey said. “It always amazes me what he brings to the table.”
Posey said he has a deep appreciation for what the 39-year-old Hudson does to get himself ready to start every five days and “give us a chance to win.” Then he smiled.
“I’m sure there’s a little bias because I watched him when I was in high school,” Posey said. (And yes, that fact does come up often in the clubhouse.)
Posey was more than just a fan on Friday. He hit an early two-run homer and added a needed insurance run in the eighth. In between, he focused on catching Hudson’s bounce-back start. The right-hander gave up eight runs at Coors Field over the weekend but said he felt much better physically on Friday, something Posey noticed as Hudson’s fastball came in with more consistent velocity.
Hudson said none of that had to do with facing former teammates. He met with Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons and others on Thursday, but once they stepped in the box it was business as usual.
“I’m trying to get them out and they’re trying to get hits off me,” he said. “Tonight was a pretty solid night for me overall.”
Hudson said his mom and dad were watching back home and he figures he had plenty of childhood friends glued to the matchup between Hudson and the team he grew up rooting for. Those watching at home likely saw plenty of shots of Stephen Curry and his family, and the Giants noticed the MVP in the stands, too.
Several relievers saw Curry early and then spent a chunk of the game debating Warriors-related topics. Posey ran back to the clubhouse just before first pitch and saw Curry meeting with Willie Mays. The 2012 NL MVP had never before met the current NBA MVP.
“It was cool,” Posey said. “You could tell there was a little extra electricity. Everybody was excited he was here. I got to speak to him really quickly right before the game. I’m definitely pulling for him, for all of them.”
--- Shameless plug since that last sentence fits right in: Here's my story about Posey, Crawford, Kontos, Pence and others rooting for the Warriors.
--- The Junior Giants are holding a Glove Drive this Saturday when the Giants host the Braves for a 7:05 p.m. game. Fans who donate a new or gently used glove or make a $10 donation will receive a 2014 World Champions pin or a Madison Bumgarner MVP pin. Donations can be made at all gates before the game, or inside the park at the Community Clubhouse on the Promenade Level.
--- Worth watching: Hunter Strickland was the only one to warm up as the Giants held a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, and he pitched the eighth. At first it seemed maybe others were unavailable, and manager Bruce Bochy surely did want to stay away from a couple of overused guys, but Santiago Casilla ended up in the game and Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo warmed up in the bottom of the ninth. Clearly this wasn't an emergency, which means Bochy has already moved Strickland to a spot where he's protecting one-run leads in the late innings.
Strickland pitched a perfect inning and has one hit allowed and eight strikeouts through 6 1/3 innings. He still has never allowed a run in the regular season. If you gave up on Strickland in October -- and MANY did -- it's probably time to jump back on the bandwagon. Bochy and Dave Righetti trust him, the results are there, the stuff is electric ... this guy looks like he's here to stay this time.