SAN FRANCISCO It was only one game a 6-3 loss Wednesday to the San Diego Padres amid an otherwise hugely successful run of wins but it was revealing of what the Giants lack in the broader context of a postseason run.
Namely, Tim Lincecum pitching consistently like an ace, reliable bats beyond Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera and some bullpen help.
That's what was lacking for the Giants on an otherwise beautiful afternoon as the Los Angeles Dodgers come to town for the biggest series of the year starting Friday. And those are the needs likely occupying the mind of the Giants' brain trust as Tuesday's major league trade deadline looms.
The Dodgers, right on the Giants' heels in the National League West, acquired shortstop Hanley Ramirez from Miami on Wednesday, along with the last 2 1/2 seasons of his $70 million contract.
And Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said his team is not done. The Dodgers are going after another bat and more pitching.
If they are successful particularly while the Dodgers are in San Francisco this weekend the local clamor will intensify for the Giants to answer.
Fans here can mark individual years with the big-ticket players the Giants didn't pursue. But recent history points to reality and reason that many Giants fans don't want to hear.
The Giants, a good team in need of supplemental help, proved last year that going for broke is sometimes the move you wish you hadn't made.
The Giants need a right-handed bat or two off the bench and relievers who can lock games down beginning in the sixth inning.
Not big-time enough? You want sluggers like Hunter Pence of Philadelphia or Aramis Ramirez of Milwaukee? I understand.
It was exciting when the Giants traded for marquee outfielder Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets last summer. For a day or so, the move made the Giants look bold and ambitious.
But from the first game it didn't work out on any level. The Giants missed the playoffs, and Beltran left for St. Louis all for the price of Zack Wheeler, the Giants' top pitching prospect.
The template for success a World Series title was immortalized two summers ago when the Giants picked up outfielders Pat Burrell and Cody Ross and reliever Javier Lopez.
While giving up almost nothing, the Giants got much in return: Burrell was a big contributor that summer, Ross was the MVP of an unlikely National League Championship Series win over favored Philadelphia, and Lopez remains a key piece in the bullpen.
With the Giants' major investment in pitching, and a $20 million annual debt service on their beloved ballpark, a big-ticket player is hardly realistic.
The most desirable players on major league rosters are off-limits to trades, and the Giants have signaled a reluctance to part with key prospects given the loss of Wheeler for Beltran.
Who does that leave to trade? Nate Schierholtz in right field? First baseman Brandon Belt, who was 2 for 37 before hitting a ninth-inning double Wednesday?
Let's get real.
The Giants have an offensive nucleus in Posey, Sandoval and Cabrera. Angel Pagan in center field and Ryan Theriot at second base are solid. Hector Sanchez easily could catch more games when he returns from injury.
That could push Posey to first base more to plug that hole and move Sandoval back to third base after he recovers from Tuesday's injury sustained while playing first.
If the Giants could land a hitter to send Emmanuel Burriss packing and another one to send Belt down to Triple A, they then could pray for health in their proven hitters.
Then they need to get someone in the bullpen better than Brad Penny, maybe someone who can be a spot closer if Santiago Casilla keeps having hiccups. They definitely need to help Lincecum become half of what he used to be.
I know. It's not sexy, but it could be enough. This team is young, yet battle-tested. It has excellent pitching and young position players on the rise.
Most teams would kill to be in the Giants' place, holes or no holes. The best move is always the one made with eyes wide open.