DENVER – Let’s take roughly a half-season of Giants baseball, toss it in the ol’ mash tun, crank up the heat and see what happens:
April: The Giants had more walk-offs than Orson Welles at a commercial shoot. The rotation was kinda sorta not so good.
May: The Giants rotation was abysmal. But … more walk-offs. Some involving lots of Angel Pagan’s hair.
June: The rotation was marginally better. The bullpen was markedly worse. And all those comebacks? Well, you can’t buy game-winning RBIs by the liter, can you?
There’s your distillation of the Giants’ season. Their 38-41 record is an apt placeholder, too. They’ve been fair to middling all season, and lately there hasn’t been much fair to pick out –including Friday night, when the offense lacked any potency in a 4-1 loss at Coors Field – their fifth consecutive defeat, seventh in eight games and 26th out of 41.
[REPLAY: Road woes continue for Zito, Giants]
The Giants got the tying run to the plate in the ninth before Brandon Crawford grounded out. They’ve gotten the tying run to the plate in the ninth in all four games on this trip.
But the comeback artists are missing some crayons these days -- to go along with everything else that’s been missing this season.
“Well it’s been rough,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s like, `The ninth inning, here we go.’ But it’s too late sometimes, as it’s shown on this road trip.”
It is not too late in the standings, where the Giants are in fourth place but only four games back of the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
But the Giants have the second worst run differential in the division at minus-23. And the deficit is really stunning when you isolate the first three innings, where they’ve been outscored 132-94 (minus-42).
They trailed 4-0 after three innings Friday, and Barry Zito – still winless in six road starts this season – acknowledged his part in that.
“Who scores first, that’s a telling thing,” said Zito, who gave up consecutive home runs to Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario in the third. “You create momentum for your team when you score the first run. We’re putting them in a hole, and I take responsibility for that.”
The Giants outhit their mistakes all the way until May 25, when Pagan hit his walk-off, inside-the-park home run to beat the Rockies. They won the next day, too, behind an improving Matt Cain, they were 28-22, and riding the escalator.
But then they got something caught in the handrail. And ever since then, it hasn’t been pretty.
Gregor Blanco initially did well in Pagan’s absence, but he’s cooling off. Andres Torres wasn’t signed to be an everyday player, but he’s playing every day. Marco Scutaro is trying to hit with a torn tendon in his pinky finger. Pablo Sandoval missed two weeks with a foot strain, and hasn’t had his timing – or much semblance of physical fitness – upon his return. Crawford missed a few games with two sprained fingers and is 1 for his last 26 with runners in scoring position.
The Giants had four hits Friday night. Buster Posey had three of them.
“A lot of guys are nicked up now,” Bochy said. “It’s part of the game you deal with. They’re trying to get comfortable with their timing and right now we have some guys who don’t have it.
“When you’re not 100 percent, it’s tough. But hopefully you find a way to get some runs on the board for this staff.”
Bochy suggested backing off the early hitting, and he’ll talk to Hensley Meulens about that. Then again, the Giants are 3-9 after a day off. So you can’t say they’re overworking themselves into a funk.
“You talk and you meet. But it’s gonna take somebody to spark this club,” Bochy said. “Right now, we’re missing that spark.”
A spark isn’t enough. The Giants aren’t trying to sneak out that second or third run, like they hoped to get so many times over the past few seasons. Their pitching hasn’t been the same. They need that fifth or sixth run now.
Crawford, for his part, said his fingers are still sore but by no means is that an excuse. He said he’s actually felt OK at the plate, in spite of his hand.
“It’s not just going to get better overnight,” he said.
Not his fingers. Not the Giants’ grip on their season, either.
“It’s not out of hand, not out of reach,” Zito said. “We’ve all beaten up on each other in the NL West, so it could be worse. But that’s not a reason for us to feel good. We’ve got some work to do as a team.
“We put too much on our backs and it’s not a good situation, you know? We can’t turn our season around in a day. But we can win today.”