Dickey: Giants’ weakness becomes strength

This is a very different Giants team than what we expected this year. Now that the fog has reappeared, we probably won’t see anything like the three straight games of double-digit scoring this week, but the Giants are a much better hitting team than was anticipated.

Unfortunately, their starting pitching has also gone south, so the net result is no change to their postseason hopes. The Padres are widening their division lead, so realistically, the Giants have to concentrate on the wild card, where they’ll probably have to beat out the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals — and maybe even the Colorado Rockies.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean is having his best season in several years. He strengthened the team by picking up Aubrey Huff — a move which I questioned — for a relatively low $3 million before the start of the season. As the season has gone on, he’s picked up Pat Burrell, who’s been a huge addition, and lately, Jose Guillen and Cody Ross. With Buster Posey finally in the majors, as he should have been at the start of the season, the Giants have a very potent offense.

All of which has made their games much more exciting because they always have the potential to overcome leads. On Wednesday, they battled back from a 10-1 deficit before finally losing.

That game highlighted their strengths and weaknesses, because that 10-1 hole was dug mainly by the frightening ineffectiveness of rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who had been a steady performer.

Bumgarner looked as if he were pitching batting practice, as the Reds hit three homers in the first inning and eight runs before

Bumgarner left with only two outs in the third inning. The last run was particularly embarrassing. He was trying to intentionally walk the No. 8 hitter to get at the pitcher but threw his first pitch before Posey was set. It got by Posey, and the runner on third scored.

Before their 12-game stretch against contenders started — the Giants went 5-7 — a Sports Illustrated writer said they were the best team in the NL West because they had the best starting rotation in baseball. Not even close, on both counts. The Padres, who have gone 9-2 against the Giants this season, are the best team in the division, and the Giants’ rotation is falling apart.

Take a look: Tim Lincecum has struggled so much that the Giants are happy when they can say, “Well, that wasn’t his worst outing.”

After a sensational start, Barry Zito has, well, reverted to being Barry Zito. I wish the Dow Jones averages were climbing as fast as his ERA.

Matt Cain has dominant stuff, but he’s inconsistent.

Jonathan Sanchez had a seven-run lead against the Reds and had to come out before he blew it.

Bumgarner? Well, you can only hope Wednesday’s outing was a total aberration, but he looked completely lost. The league’s hitters may be catching up to him.

At the start of the season, the Giants hoped their rotation would get them into the playoffs and make them tough to beat there. Now, it seems their hitting could get them in, but their pitching would produce a quick exit.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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