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Giants get swept and keep free-falling with bats, pitching real problems

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Madison Bumgarner is still in the rotation, and Will Smith is planted in the bullpen.

That is the only evidence right now the Giants are allegedly playoff contenders.

The Giants were hopeful the rotation’s youth would mean it improved over time. Instead, it has looked even greener.

The Giants were hopeful the offense could survive without Alex Dickerson. It has flat-lined.

For the first time since May 24-26 against the Diamondbacks, the Giants were swept, as the Nationals captured the final game of the three-game set, 4-1, in front of 30,958 disappointed customers at Oracle Park on Wednesday afternoon. A roaring July has become a yawning August, 1-6 since Farhan Zaidi did not part with Bumgarner and Smith at the trade deadline. They’re now four games behind Philadelphia, who comes to town Thursday.

Tyler Beede has struggled recently, Conner Menez was wild Tuesday, but Shaun Anderson’s plummet has been the most pronounced. Bruce Bochy did not wait for Anderson to figure it out, pulling him after three innings and 66 pitches, in which he allowed four runs.

The 24-year-old rookie had a good slider but little else, including control, as he let up four hits and three walks. The big blow was a 379-foot Gerardo Parra homer to left in the third. Anderson struck out Victor Robles to finish the frame and then was pinch-hit for the following inning.

Since a June 28 start against Arizona, Anderson’s ERA has swelled from 3.86 to 5.33. There are times rough starts can be swallowed in the name of development; an apparent playoff race isn’t one of those times, and it will not be a surprise if his next outing comes with Triple-A Sacramento.

An offense that will be without Dickerson even longer than it thought – Bochy said he doesn’t expect him back when he’s eligible to be activated Sunday – was not able to make strong bullpen work stand up. The Giants managed just six hits and scored four runs in three games against Washington (in games started by Joe Ross, Anibal Sanchez and Erick Fedde, with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg missing the series). A nine-game homestand that is crucial for their playoff hopes has begun as poorly as possible, and with an injury scare, too.

Steven Duggar made a nice, fourth inning-ending running grab to steal a hit from Juan Soto and multiple runs from the Nationals, who had the bases loaded. Duggar tumbled over and immediately grabbed at his left shoulder, the same one whose surgery cost him the end of last season. He was removed from the game as Austin Slater took over.

The Giants didn’t break through until the ninth, when Brandon Crawford’s double scored Kevin Pillar. But they went quietly afterward.

Prior to the ninth, their best threat came in the fifth, when Pillar and Crawford opened the inning with singles. But Donovan Solano struck out, Brandon Belt flew out and, after a Slater walk, Mike Yastrzemski flew out to end to the inning.

They tried to mount another rally in the eighth, when a Buster Posey pinch-hit single and Brandon Belt double had the fans on their feet. But Pablo Sandoval struck out and the fans began to stream out.

The Giants only had eight base runners, seven of whom were left stranded. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

They have a hitting problem. They have a pitching problem. And there’s little Zaidi can do now externally to help.


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