It wasn’t pretty, but Tim Hudson and the Giants battled for 12 innings in San Diego last night, finally pulling out a 1-0 victory in game one of this four game set.
Pinch hitter and new Giant, Justin Maxwell, came through in the 12th inning. After battling the count full, Maxwell delivered a line single to center field to score Brandon Crawford, who had reached second base on a fielding error by Padre shortstop Clint Barnes. Santiago Casilla came in to pitch a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to end the game, earning his third save in three tries.
The Padres home opener featured a furious pitcher’s duel that began with starting pitchers Tim Hudson and Ian Kennedy. However, by the end of this battle, 13 pitchers would contribute to the defensive spectacle, with only one run and 13 hits combined by both clubs. Padres ace, Ian Kennedy, left the game in the third with a strained hamstring, but the Giants bats were continually stifled by the San Diego bullpen. The Giants were only able to manage 6 hits, including just 1 extra base hit, leaving 8 men on base and delivered only once with 9 men in scoring position. They wasted a tremendous opportunity in the ninth, when Angel Pagan slammed a triple into the right center field gap, diving into third base with a head first slide, firing up the bench. A double play grounder by Casey McGehee (who also committed two errors in the game), ended that threat. But it was the one hit that counted in the 12th, with Maxwell coming through to drive in Crawford from second.
As good as the Padres’ relievers were, the Giants’ were better. Six Giants’ relievers pitched 5 ⅔ innings, allowing just 2 hits, 0 base on balls, and 0 runs. Starter Tim Hudson was repeatedly bailed out of trouble by the defense as San Diego was hitless in six at bats with runners in scoring position against Hudson. The Giants’ defense continually stuffed Padres’ threats with their secret weapon – the double play – four in all for the night. Hudson needed the help, as he walked 5 batters and allowed 5 hits in 6 ⅓ innings. The 39 year old veteran had nasty stuff all night, but struggled with his control, throwing 93 pitches, but only 56 for strikes.
So, after four hours and five minutes, culminating in yet another 1-run game, the Giants improve to 3-1 on the season, ½ game ahead of the Dodgers and ½ game behind the Rockies. Game 2 starts tonight at 7:10, and a win for the G-men ensures a winning record on this opening 7 game road trip. The other Tim, “The Freak,” Tim Lincecum, gets his first opportunity tonight to show that his offseason reunion and tutelage with his dad has paid off. And that yes, he could be the best number five starter in all of MLB.