SAN FRANCISCO -- Eleven months ago, Tim Hudson lay on the Citi Field infield, writhing in pain, his right ankle broken. Late Thursday afternoon, Hudson walked off the field inside AT&T Park to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd, his day complete and his team on its way to a 7-1 victory over the Nationals.
Hudson (7-2, 1.81 ERA) allowed one unearned run on six hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA to a Major League-best 1.81 and helping to thwart what would have been the first four-game sweep suffered by the franchise inside AT&T Park. The Giants are now 10-2 in Hudson's starts this season.
Eleven months ago, it was fair to wonder if Hudson would ever play professional baseball again. After another shutdown performance on Thursday afternoon, it's now fair to wonder if the 38-year-old should be tabbed as the National League's starting pitcher in next month's All-Star Game, which will be played almost a year to the date of his gruesome leg injury.
"The ball was down and he just induces grounders. It seemed like he never gets the ball up," Washington manager Matt Williams said of Hudson's performance. "That was pretty typical."
After a recent start, the sinker-balling Hudson credited his rejuvenation to "smoke and mirrors." Whatever the cause, the Giants are happy to have him, and he's happy to be in their uniform. Twelve starts in, the Hudson-Giants honeymoon has no end in sight.
"It's been a fun team; it's been a pleasure getting to know them thus far this season," Hudson said. "It makes our play on the field a lot easier to go out there and have fun and be successful and enjoy it."
Added manager Bruce Bochy: "I've always admired Huddy from the other side. How well he competes; this guy's won over 200 games, he knows what he's doing. I really felt like we were getting a front-line starter who would make us a better team and give us a chance to win on a consistent basis, and he does that so well."
The Giants' hitting with runners in scoring position helped vault them to the best record in the Majors. The disappearance of said timely hitting led the Giants to three consecutive losses to begin this four-game set with the Nationals. The timely hitting made a return appearance to back Hudson's efforts on Thursday afternoon.
Tyler Colvin drilled a Blake Treinen offering deep into the right-center alley in the second inning for a triple, scoring Michael Morse and giving the Giants a 1-0 lead, their first advantage of the four-game set. Brandon Crawford followed Colvin's triple with a grounder to second that scored Colvin.
The Giants squandered a bases-loaded, nobody-out opportunity in the fourth, but atoned for the shortcoming later on. Pablo Sandoval scored on a balk by Craig Stammen in the sixth inning and a pinch-hit single later in the frame by Gregor Blanco plated Morse to increase the lead to 4-1. A Sandoval sacrifice fly in the seventh and Hector Sanchez's pinch-hit, two-run single in the eighth capped the Giants' scoring.
A Ryan Zimmerman liner to left in the fourth supplied the Nationals' only run off Hudson, who benefited from some stellar defense behind him.
Angel Pagan made a sliding grab in deep center to rob Jayson Werth of extra bases in the fourth. Crawford ranged to his left to corral a grounder from the speedy Denard Span before stepping on second and making the throw to first in time to preserve the then-2-1 lead in the fifth. An inning later, Crawford ranged to his right with two on and one out, scooping up the Zimmerman grounder in time to throw Werth out at third.
"He hit that ball pretty good and it hit the lip of the grass and it popped up, it was a big play for us right there," Hudson said of Crawford's double play. "He's much better defensively than I anticipated coming into Spring Training. He's really blown me away with his defensive skills."
After playing with Andrelton Simmons, arguably the game's best defensive shortstop, Hudson has grown accustomed to being backed by outstanding defensive play at the position. He believes Crawford belongs in the same discussion defensively as Simmons.
"Crawford is way better than people give him credit for," Hudson said, "and a lot of fun to watch. Every ball that gets hit to that side of the field I feel like he's going to make a play on."
Crawford has exceeded Hudson's expectations and Bochy believes the same can be said about Hudson.
"We were very excited about getting him here," Bochy said, "and he's done all we thought he could do and more."
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.