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Murph: After brutal week, ability to tread water only getting tougher for Giants

The Giants did not make an error in their 6-3 loss at Philadelphia’s Facebook Yard on Thursday.

And thus concludes the ‘good news’ portion of our program. Thanks for coming, and please clear the seats for the stampede of bad news coming your way.

I know, I know. My public stance is ‘Be At .500 on Flag Day’, and I’m sticking to it. The Giants are 19-19 heading to Pittsburgh, and that leaves the Flag Day goal (June 14, for all you who have overlooked the long-forgotten Flag Day on your calendar) intact.

But by “intact”, I mean more like “dangling dangerously, like a child’s loose tooth.”

The Johnny Cueto news of no surgery needed was considered good news, but let’s be honest. Cueto out for eight weeks is a major blow, and combined with Madison Bumgarner’s ongoing absence, leaves me queasy for nearly every Giants starting pitcher going forward.

This, sports fans, is your major problem.

The starting pitching is as dicey as scallions chopped rapid-fire by your nearest sous chef.

As the ‘Leadoff Spot’’s very own Adam Copeland and I were just texting to each other: ‘I can’t believe we’re looking forward to an Andy Suarez start.’

And not just looking forward. Looking to him as a stopper.

The four starts from Jeff (Looking Nowhere Near Ready) Samardzija, Chris (Don’t Call Me Ryan Jensen) Stratton, Derek (To Be Honest, Just Happy to Be Here) Holland and Ty (On Again, Off Again) Blach were wholly inadequate.

Blach didn’t make it out of the 5th inning. Neither did Stratton. Neither did Samardzija. When Holland’s five innings stand out as the Bumgarnerian effort of a four-game set in the band box of Philly, that’s no bueno.

I know the cool thing in baseball is to turn the ball over to your bullpen early, but this isn’t exactly what the egghead data guys had in mind, I don’t think.

How do you overcome spotty starting pitching? By slugging the ball for 24 runs in three games, as the Giants did in Atlanta. Problem is, when guys like Brandon Belt (3-for-15, seven Ks), and Evan Longoria (3-for-15, six Ks) and Gregor Blanco (2-for-11, five Ks) and Nick Hundley (0-for-6, four Ks) and Alen Hanson (2-for-13, four Ks) and Gorkys Hernandez (2-for-10, six Ks) go ice cold in Philadelphia, you’re up the Delaware River without a paddle.

The Giants are hitting better this year, yes. But they are not going to average eight runs per game, like the Atlanta explosion. They scored eight runs in four games in Philly. In the old days, with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and a healthy Bumgarner, that might actually earn you a split of four games.

With the 2018 rotation? Not so much.

So back to the “.500 on Flag Day” deal. Yes, it’s still possible. But unless Samardzija finds his fastball and off-speed stuff, it’s going to be tough. And unless Stratton figures out a way to cure his location issues, it’s going to be tough. And unless Blach can summon the spirit of Kirk Rueter, it’s going to be tough. And unless Holland can . . . well, like I said. It’s going to be tough.

Andy Suarez, anyone?

The ball season marches on. And look on the bright side: No floating blue thumbs on your screen in Pittsburgh.


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