In the first 412 starts of his major league career, Tim Hudson won 201 games. In the past 10, he has won zero.
Maybe it hasn’t all been his fault. Maybe the Braves have bigger concerns at the midway point of the season (like a bullpen wearing thin after losing two relievers to injuries, stranding base runners, etc.). But when the veteran of a starting rotation and one of the acknowledged leaders on a team can’t hold leads, it’s kind of a problem.
Hudson lost a bid for his first win in nearly two months Saturday. The Braves gave him leads of 2-0 and 4-2 and dropped both, getting pulled in the sixth. In the end it didn’t matter because the Braves put together one of those Looney Tunes kind of innings — seven runs on five hits, two hit batters, an error, a walk and a couple of pie fights — against the imploding Arizona bullpen in the eighth — and they rallied to defeat Arizona 11-5.
So it was a joyous no decision for Tim Hudson.
Or maybe not.
Going this long without a win clearly is wearing on the 37-year-old. Nobody expects him to be the ace of this staff anymore. But having such a pronounced stretch of so many no-decisions (four) and losses (six) can lead a man to vent. Like Saturday.
Hudson was pulled by manager Fredi Gonzalez after allowing a two-run, two-out homer to A.J. Pollock in the sixth inning to tie the score 4-4. Gonzalez really shouldn’t be second-guessed for that. Hudson had thrown 100 pitches. If anything, some could debate whether he went with Hudson too long.
But Hudson didn’t see it that way. Though he spoke calmly afterward, he went out of his way in a postgame interview to say, “I wish I had a chance to have an opportunity at a decision, to get one more out. But the important thing is we won the ballgame.”
That was just the setup. He came back to the subject later: “I would’ve liked to have the opportunity to have a decision. A hundred pitches — for me that’s not really a magic number to take you out of the game. You work real hard the whole game, and it’s one pitch that a guy puts a good swing on, on a pitch away, and ties the game up. I guess you need 16 years in the big leagues to get that chance.”
That was the left hook.
This is Hudson’s 15th season.
When asked if he tried to make his case to Gonzalez, Hudson responded: “I couldn’t. As soon as he came out of the dugout he signaled to the ’pen. I never had a chance.”
Gonzalez earlier said Hudson “just left a pitch to Pollock over the plate, but it was a good outing. It wasn’t his best outing of the year obviously, but I thought he was fine.”
Hudson was handed a 2-0 lead after Freddie Freeman’s two-run homer in the third inning. He lost it. Arizona scored twice in the fourth on an infield single, a wild pitch, a double, a single and a walk — a 27-pitch inning in which he already looked gassed.
He was handed a 4-2 lead when the Braves scored two relative gift runs in the fifth inning on five walks and a sacrifice fly. He lost it again — and again in the next half-inning — when Pollock clubbed Hudson’s 100th pitch over the center-field wall for a two-run homer. There went the lead, and out came Gonzalez.
“It was a pitch on the outside corner that he just drove to center field,” Hudson said. “His numbers on anything away isn’t very good, but he drove it out of the park.”
That’s how it has gone for Hudson. He hasn’t won a game since May 5. For all of the Sabermetric lemmings who want to argue that wins are an overrated statistic: back to the basement. When a starting pitcher is 0-6 with four no-decisions in a span of 10 starts, it’s not all because of circumstances. Yes, Hudson pitched impressively in his previous five starts (1.82 ERA). But he kinda stunk in his previous four outings: 19 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings (8.91 ERA). And he blew leads twice Saturday.
“Yeah, two months sucks without getting a W, especially when you feel like you’ve pitched well enough to win some ballgames,” he said. “But that’s the game sometimes. Five days from now, I’ll try to get back on board.”
When asked if this is as long a stretch as he ever has gone without a victory, Hudson said: “I would think so. I hope so.”
It’s generally not something a guy with 201 career wins thinks about.