Tim Hudson AP

Tim Hudson’s fountain of youth keeps flowing

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SAN FRANCISCO – It should be obvious now which medieval helmet Michael Morse and Hunter Pence should order for Tim Hudson.

One in the shiny, comb-sided Spanish conquistador style – like the one Ponce de Leon wore while searching for the Fountain of Youth.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: Giants back to winning ways, shut out Cubs]

The difference is that Hudson actually has stumbled upon it. The 38-year-old right-hander dragged his repaired ankle and his sore hip to the mound Tuesday night and pitched like he was trying to finish chores before sundown. He scattered six hits over seven sprightly shutout innings and didn’t allow a runner to reach third base in the Giants’ 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night.

Hudson remained unbeaten (8-0) in 14 home starts over the past two seasons as a Giant and a Brave. He has a 1.92 ERA. He’s the first Giant to post a sub-2 mark through 10 starts since Dave LaPoint in 1985.

Did he know he was capable of this?

“Of course!” he said, with mock pride. “You know what, it’s early in the year (but) I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my season with a new team, new teammates and a new organization. I hope they don’t think I’ll be this good all year. Hopefully I can stay healthy, stay strong and keep on keepin’ on.”

They’re saying the Giants have the best record in the NL but no obvious All-Stars on their roster. If they picked sides now, Hudson would be an obvious choice to make it for the fourth time in his career.

“It’d be a great honor, especially coming off an injury wondering if I’d pitch again,” said Hudson, who was carted off on a stretcher last July in New York with a fractured ankle. “But it’s 10 starts. There’s 25 more.”

Always, the first and last caveat is health. Hudson was coming off a rain-shortened three-inning start at Coors Field in which he limited the Rockies to one run despite seven baserunners. That was his only test since skipping his previous turn with a strained left hip.

He said there was some accumulated rust, even if the Cubs didn’t make him pay for his mistakes.

“I actually got away with a couple pitches,” he said. “Guys made some good plays behind me, like they always do. I tried to do the same thing, just make the guys behind me look as good as they can and keep the pace up.”

Pablo Sandoval blooped a single to extend his streak to seven games with an RBI, three off the San Francisco-era record held by Jeff Kent and Matt Williams. Buster Posey didn’t get any hits to interrupt his slump, but he managed a pair of sacrifice flies.

Hudson didn’t need any more than that. He had no idea if this ranks as his best 10-start run to begin a season.

“From a command standpoint, though, it’s probably the best as far as throwing strikes and letting guys behind me make plays,” he said. “I don’t really try to overpower anybody. I don’t try to overthrow through my mechanics. Just let it flow and most of the time it’s been working out.”

And yes, he’s glad he came here. He has 44 strikeouts and just six walks in 70.1 innings, and the ballpark plays into that. So did Mike Olt’s double off the wall, which would’ve been out in most parks.

“AT&T Park, chalk it up,” Hudson said, grinning. “This is a great pitcher’s park, great weather. It’s a great place to pitch. It’s all positive and no negative. You can go out and challenge guys. I’ve got the confidence to attack the strike zone and not nibble so much.”

As for his hip, he said he didn’t have any issues with it. The reconstructed ankle does get cranky later in games, but he comes in early to get treatment and it’s “as 100 percent as it’s going to get, I think.”

The rest is fine tuning. And when you’ve driven a classic car long enough, you understand how to keep it running.

“I’m not going to kill myself on the side or long toss or try to throw 95 mph,” he said. “What I have is what I have.”

And what does he have, exactly?

“Smoke and mirrors, man,” he said, with another grin. “Smoke and mirrors.”

Another month like this and Hudson might see his reflection wearing an NL All-Star uniform. And maybe Ponce de Leon’s helmet, too.

Buddy Carlyle named the Braves new replay assistant

Buddy Carlyle
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The Braves have been terrible with respect to replay challenges this year. Almost improbably terrible. Fredi Gonzalez has challenged calls seven times and he’s been unsuccessful on all seven challenges. Given how these things work, it’s likely because he’s getting bad advice from the Braves employee designated to watch the replays and suggest when challenges should be made.

Now Gonzalez is going to have a new guy in that role. A familiar name too: Buddy Carlyle, who Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports, will join the Braves as a coaching assistant who will handle the replay review decisions.

Carlyle, of course, spent nine seasons as a major league pitcher and nearly 20 as a professional overall. Most recently with the Mets last season before calling it a career. He pitched for the Braves as well, from 2007-09.

Now he’ll provide a new and, hopefully, more discerning set of eyes for the Braves’ replay operation.

Garrett Richards needs Tommy John surgery, Andrew Heaney has UCL damage too

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Bad, bad news for the Los Angeles Angels: their best starter needs Tommy John surgery and their most promising young starter has UCL damage as well.

Jeff Passan reports that Garrett Richards has a torn right ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to need Tommy John surgery. Richards was scratched from today’s start due to fatigue and dehydration, but Passan says they found the UCL tear while examining him yesterday. Richards is the Angels’ ace, having won 13 games in 2014 and 15 games a year ago. So far this year he a 2.34 ERA in six starts.

Heaney, meanwhile, has damage to his left ulnar collateral ligament, Passan reports. He was diagnosed with a flexor muscle strain after he was placed on the disabled list following his first start of the season, but this is obviously more serious. Unlike Richards, the plan at the moment is for Heaney to rehab rather than go under the knife. Sometimes that works. Often it doesn’t and Tommy John happens later. We’ll see.

These twin blows are huge and terrible for the Angels, who already had serious depth issues basically everywhere on the roster. The conventional wisdom before the year started was that, if everything broke right and everyone stayed healthy, they could possibly contend in an often volatile AL West, but that they didn’t have a big margin for error. This is a lot of error. The Angels are 13-15 and four games out in the division as it is. Without two starters on whom they were counting big, it’s hard to see how the rest of the Angels’ season isn’t going to be a total slog.

Willie Mays gets a cable car named after him

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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This is not exactly stunning news, but it’s Willie Mays’ 85th birthday today and any excuse to talk about Willie Mays is a good one. Happy Birthday, Willie!

The pretext is a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about how The Greatest Baseball Player of All Time (my view anyway) is getting an iconic cable car named after him. An icon named after an icon, I guess. The cable car is, appropriately, number 24.

Next month I’m taking my kids on vacation to California and we’re spending a few days in San Francisco. It’ll be a shame when I tell them we have to cancel half of a day’s plans while I make them wait for one particular cable car to come by so they can take my picture with it, but that’s just what they have to deal with given that I’m their dad.

Carlos Gomez calls out a hit piece-writing columnist

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Yesterday I wrote about a column written by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. It was about Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has had a poor start to the year.

The column, as I noted, was a hatchet job, blaming Gomez for the Astros’ problems despite the fact that Gomez is by far from the biggest of the Astros’ problems. It was particularly bad in that it presented an unedited bit of broken English from Gomez which seemed calculated to cast Gomez in a bad light. Many journalists were critical of Smith in this regard, noting that he could’ve used a translator, could have paraphrased or could’ve done some mild correction via brackets, as is often done with quotes from non-native English speakers.

Last night Gomez took to Twitter to call out Smith himself:

It’s possible to write a column about how a player hasn’t lived up to expectations without being an insensitive jackass. It’s possible to do so even in the sharpest of ways. Smith didn’t do that, however, and didn’t make an effort to try, it seems. Gomez is right to take issue with it. And I suspect that Gomez’s teammates and organization take issue with it too. Which likely doesn’t bode well for Smith getting cooperation from others in the Astros family.