Tim Hudson is having the best start to a season of any Giants starter in nearly 30 years, posting a 1.92 ERA through his first 10 starts for his new club, a franchise-best through 10 outings since 1985 (Dave LaPoint, 1.88). But the veteran right-hander hasn't fared well against the team he'll face in the finale of a four-game weekend set at Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In 12 career starts against the Cardinals, Hudson is 3-4 with a 5.78 ERA. It's been particularly rough for Hudson against the Cards over his last seven starts against them, in which he has posted a 7.22 ERA.
But the 38-year-old said following his last outing against the Cubs on Tuesday that his command over his first 10 starts has been the best of his career, and he'll rely on that again Sunday.
"From a command standpoint, I think this is the best I've been, throwing strikes and letting the guys behind me make plays," he said after blanking Chicago over seven innings at AT&T Park. "At this point in my career, I don't try to overpower anybody or try to overthrow, just trust what I have and let it do its thing."
There are some veteran hitters in the St. Louis lineup, such as Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina, who have faced Hudson a number of times. But the right-hander may see a new face in the batter's box Sunday, as heralded prospect Oscar Taveras looks to follow up on his debut performance Saturday, in which he homered for his first hit in his second big league at-bat.
"He's had a really nice start to his professional career, and hopefully this is an atmosphere that can help launch him to the next level," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Saturday. "There's excitement for a reason, because he's an exciting talent."
Right-hander Lance Lynn is slated to take the ball for St. Louis. Lynn has struggled in two career starts against San Francisco, going 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA, but he is coming off his first career shutout. He allowed only five hits and struck out two with three walks against the Yankees at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.
"That's your goal, to always throw a complete-game shutout," Lynn said after the game. "Every time you go out, that's what you try to do -- not give up any runs and finish it. Today was the first time I was able to do that. It took me way too long."
Giants: Pence finding comfort zone in two-hole
Right fielder Hunter Pence wasn't expecting to be the Giants' No. 2 hitter before the season began, but with regular No. 2 hitter Marco Scutaro out of the lineup with an injured back, Pence has hit in the two-hole most of the season, making his 40th start in that lineup spot Saturday.
But Pence said Saturday he's becoming more comfortable hitting in that position.
"I didn't really mean for myself to adjust to it," he said. "But I definitely have."
Pence also said he's working on adjusting his approach at the plate in accordance with leadoff hitter Angel Pagan's stolen-base attempts.
"It's a big part of his game, so I have to be cognizant of that," Pence said of Pagan's speed on the basepaths.
Cardinals: Plentiful outfield options
With the promotion of Taveras, who will see time in the corner spots, and the recent recall of Randal Grichuk from Triple-A Memphis, the Cardinals have what is shaping up to be a three-man race for playing time in center field.
Grichuk hit .315 and slugged .589 with 10 home runs at Memphis, and Jon Jay has been hitting well as of late, hitting nearly .400 over his previous nine games.
The odd-man out could be Peter Bourjos, who has struggled, hitting .204 in 41 games this season.
"I think center field is still a little bit in play, if you will," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "Jay's hitting, so Jay deserves opportunities to continue to play. ... Right now, Bourjos is going to have to understand his role may be diminished a little bit and may be seen more as a defensive replacement late in the game."
• Since 2011, the Cardinals have played in the most postseason games of any National League team (48). The Giants are second during that period, having played in 16 playoff games in 2012 alone.
• Holliday and Molina have had success in their careers against Hudson. Holliday is 9-for-24 (.375) with a double and five RBIs against the right-hander, while Molina is 6-for-15 (.400), also with a double and five RBIs.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.