PHOENIX – Tim Hudson is not a jittery rookie. When you lead active pitchers in career victories, you pick up some self-assuredness along the way.
So Hudson prepared for his Giants debut the way every 38-year-old with 205 wins has a right to do: With his feet up in a leather recliner, knocking out an episode or two of “Dexter.”
Then he went to work slicing and dicing up the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Hudson cut, split and sank his way through 7 2/3 clinically efficient shutout innings and Angel Pagan offered a flurry of supportive salutes in the Giants’ 2-0 victory at Chase Field Wednesday night.
Pagan made a sliding, run-saving catch, he singled in the game’s first run and then he sprinted to grab another drive in the right-center gap to help Hudson win his 206th game, nudging him past C.C. Sabathia for the most among active pitchers.
Starting pitching report
Hudson looked merely OK in his last couple outings this spring, so the Giants couldn’t be sure exactly what they’d get in his debut.
They got a vintage performance. Hudson only missed a handful of spots while mesmerizing the Diamondbacks’ fastball-hitting lineup with a combination of cutters, sliders and splits.
He struck out two while tossing three perfect innings the first time through Arizona’s lineup. Gerardo Parra singled and advanced on a wild pitch in the fourth,, and while Pagan’s catch on Miguel Prado saved a run, Hudson did his own stout work just prior to that by striking out the ever-dangerous Paul Goldschmidt on three pitches.
Hudson didn’t allow another hit until Parra stroked a two-out double in the sixth, but the right-hander came back to strike out Aaron Hill on a high fastball. Hill probably felt like he had to cover a zone the size of a stepladder; he fanned on a splitter in the dirt in the first inning.
The outfield helped him by running down a few outs in the later innings and Hudson yielded to Javier Lopez with two outs in the eighth. His final line: 7 2/3 innings, three hits, no walks, seven strikeouts.
It was the first time since May 2, 2008, that Hudson pitched as deep as 7 2/3 shutout innings with three or fewer hits and no walks.
The Diamondbacks, who had four baserunners all night, cannot be happy to have Hudson in the NL West. He improved to 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 12 career games against them. He’s 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA in seven games at Chase Field.
Lopez made quick work of Parra and Sergio Romo went through the heart of Arizona’s lineup while recording a stress-free second save this season.
At the plate
The Giants hit into several hard outs against right-hander Trevor Cahill before breaking through in the fifth. Ehire Adrianza walked, advanced on Hudson’s sacrifice and scored easily on Pagan’s single through the right side.
The Giants added another run in the sixth when Michael Morse’s double barely cleared the reach of Tony Campana, Arizona’s diminutive center fielder who must’ve been wearing his spikes when they recorded him as 5-foot-8 on weights and measures day.
Pagan added another single and a stolen base in the seventh but Brandon Belt struck out to strand him. No matter, since Hudson and Co. made two runs hold up in a lively ballpark.
All pitchers benefit from smooth infield play. It’s a prerequisite for Hudson, whose game plan is all about the hollow of the kneecap and the ground ball.
So it was convenient that the Giants settled from their Opening Day hiccups and made every routine play until Adrianza, the second baseman, let a line drive squirt out of his glove for an error to start the eighth.
Pagan was the defensive star, getting a good jump and them timing it right to take a single away from Prado to end the fourth inning. Parra would have scored easily from second base.
Right fielder Hunter Pence added a shoestring catch down the line in the seventh. And Pagan got another fine jump, losing his cap in mid-sprint, to track down A.J. Pollock’s drive to right-center in the eighth.
The Diamondbacks announced 19,357 paid. And someone went home with a most unexpected batting practice souvenir – a Pat Burrell home run ball. Burrell, a Giants scout since retiring two years ago, stepped in the cage, saw one pitch – and hit it into the left field seats. He’s still “Pat the Bat.”
The Giants and Diamondbacks complete their four-game series at Chase Field on Thursday. Tim Lincecum makes his season debut against right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who will be making his first start in a Diamondbacks uniform. First pitch is scheduled for 12:40 p.m. PDT.