Tim Hudson left the pitching mound for likely the last time to a roaring ovation and tipped his cap to every section of the stadium as his Giants teammates waited in front of the dugout in a hug line.
Hudson wanted one final start in front of the home fans at AT&T Park, even if it would be short and sweet. Manager Bruce Bochy obliged him, all right.
“He’s earned that,” the skipper said.
Hudson allowed three runs and three hits in 2 1/3 innings in the final start of his 17-year major league career, taking the loss in a 3-2 defeat to the division champion Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.
The 40-year-old right-hander (8-9) said his farewell last weekend across the bay in Oakland where his career began in 1999, pitching opposite former Giants lefty Barry Zito.
Hudson is the majors’ active wins leader for a few more days with 222 victories. He won his first World Series ring last season and winds up having thrown 46,631 pitches against 13,005 batters.
“I was surprised how good I was able to hold it together there,” Hudson said. “The last couple weeks have been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. I’ve had so much fun over the last 17 years and today was a really special day for me, the way the fans responded, the way my teammates responded. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I’m very grateful for all of it.”
Bochy expected Hudson’s outing to be short considering he has been bothered by a tender left hip, though that wasn’t an issue Thursday.
Hudson will be honored during the weekend along with left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt, who announced his retirement Thursday and entered to relieve Hudson. Before the game, Affeldt broke down during a press conference.
“I had some real good friends that I made in this game,” he said, “a few that I would consider closer to than a brother, and one of them is in here right now, Matt Cain, and not being a part of his life like I’d like to be …”
He paused and had to regain his emotions. “I don’t know how I’m going to do the thing on Sunday if I can’t get through this,” said Affeldt, referring to an on-field ceremony planned for him.
After so many playoff failures, Hudson finally won his first World Series ring last fall.
“I never would have dreamed things would have unfolded how I hoped they would. That never happens, especially in this game,” Hudson said. “It seemed very magical.”