Tim Hudson’s excellent 16-year career has been defined in some ways by letdowns.
He’s the game’s active leader in career victories with 214, but that number could be a heck of a lot higher, and his postseason résumé a heck of a lot longer.
When he played for the A’s, so common was a late lead blown by the bullpen, or a brilliantly pitched game wasted by a lack of run support, his name actually became a verb.
Hudsoned. As in, “Dude, I can’t believe you just got Hudsoned again!”
When the A’s shocked baseball and traded Hudson to the Atlanta Braves after the 2004 season, his hope was that a change in uniform, a change in leagues, would change his luck.
Didn’t quite work out that way.
Misfortune with blown leads and no leads continued for Hudson in Atlanta, and to make matters worse, the Braves were no more successful in helping Hudson taste division series Champagne.
You might have heard that prior to the 18-inning game that Brandon Belt won last week with a home run against the Washington Nationals, the only other postseason game in history to go that long was played in 2005 and won by the Houston Astros.
They tasted division series Champagne that night by beating the Atlanta Braves in Game 4. Tim Hudson started that game and handed a 6-1 lead to the bullpen upon leaving in the eighth inning. Only to get, once again and in the most painful way imaginable, Hudsoned.
Hudson, who had taken to calling such injustices “freshies” by then, texted his friend Barry Zito after that game: “The freshest yet.”
You remember who started that 18-inning game that Belt basically ended, right? Yeah, he got Hudsoned — 7¹⁄³ innings of one-run work wasted — by lack of support in that one, too.
“I don’t know what it is, man,” Hudson said with typical good humor. “I’ve been really blessed by this game in a lot of ways, don’t get me wrong. That kinda stuff just follows me around, I guess.”
Only he didn’t say “stuff.” You know what he said. It happens. And it’s happened to Hudson a lot.
It’s happened a few times with the Giants, too. The regular-season Giants, it should be qualified. But now we have the 2014 postseason Giants, and as you’ve no doubt noticed by now, the 2014 postseason Giants do things just a little bit differently.
For one thing, one very important thing, the Giants have allowed Hudson to taste that elusive division series Champagne. And they did it on the strength of a trend that’s legend continues to grow by the day.
That slogan I suggested for the team a couple of days ago? “Giants baseball: Let the other team screw it up”? It certainly applied Tuesday in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Cardinals.
And as it applies directly to Hudson, on Tuesday it spawned yet another new verb: Reverse-Hudsoned.
Working on nine days of rest, as he had in his brilliant Game 2 NL Division Series start against the Nationals, he was the feel-good angle entering the game at AT&T Park. Everybody, even the media, seem to be pulling for good ol’ Timmy, and after he brought the sellout crowd to its feet by ripping through the top of the first inning, the Giants reverse-Hudsoned him with four early runs.
Normally, a four-run lead is as good as a “W” with Hudson on the mound. His career record in such cases is ridiculously good. But what’s normal about the 2014 postseason Giants?
Nothing. And let’s not forget that these Cardinals are a very good and resilient team. Hudson struggled after the third inning, and left in the seventh after surrendering a game-tying home run. At that point, it looked like Hudson was doomed to another bitter playoff outcome.
Didn’t quite work out that way.
The Giants’ bullpen was brilliant from that point forward, and once again the offense found and new and exciting way to score a big run.
Well, maybe not “new.” They — all together, now — let the other team screw it up.
So instead of trudging home with one of the most disappointing no-decisions of his brilliant career, Hudsoned move one step closer to tasting another as-yet-untasted kind of Champagne.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).