David Zalubowski Associated Press Giants right fielder Hunter Pence can't check his swing on a ninth-inning strikeout Sunday. Pence was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts as the Giants' bats fell silent at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Giants limp home after 1-5 trip

Published: Monday, May. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Monday, May. 20, 2013 - 6:10 am

DENVER – Giants manager Bruce Bochy leaned back in his chair and tried to explain a week's worth of terrible starting pitching.

Are the Giants' starters tired from the long 2012 season? Are some of them pitching hurt? Is there a crisis of confidence?

"So many elements come into play – it could be one of a number of things," Bochy said. "We don't stink as a club or as pitchers. We're going to have off days, but you don't have the success we have had and not be good as pitchers. They have to remind themselves how good they are."

That's getting harder to do with every passing game.

Barry Zito's second hit-heavy outing of the trip contributed to a 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, a 1-5 trip and a somber flight home.

Zito made two starts on the trip, giving up 23 hits in 11 1/3 innings. He was charged with five earned runs both times out, contributing to a 9.82 ERA for the starting staff.

Bochy does not believe his pitchers are fatigued after a World Series run that lasted until just before Halloween, pointing out that the Giants didn't have this type of collective issue after the 2010 title. He acknowledged that pitchers are naturally guarded about health issues but said he doesn't believe any of the starters are hurt, either.

As Ryan Vogelsong has said a couple of times recently, health issues would almost be welcome in a macabre type of way. At least then the Giants would have some concrete answers for why one of baseball's best staffs over the last few years is pitching like one of its worst this season.

Among National League teams, only the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers have higher starting pitcher ERAs than the Giants, and neither of those clubs has come close to making the kind of investment in pitching that the Giants have over the years.

After Sunday's loss, just the fourth shutout defeat for the Giants in the history of Coors Field, Bochy acknowledged that it might be time to mix things up.

"We're going to make some adjustments," he said. "It's a great starting rotation and has done some remarkable things for us, but at the same time, it's a new year.

"We've got to make some adjustments. These are things we're talking about."

Whatever the move is, the Giants better figure this out quickly. The upcoming homestand starts with three against a deep and talented Washington Nationals club that was part of a similar Giants trip last year. The Giants went 1-5 through Washington and Pittsburgh last July, but that trip wasn't as all-around ugly as this one. Pitching wasn't the only problem for the Giants, who were outscored 52-28 by the Rockies and Toronto Blue Jays.

The Giants made at least one error in every game and 13 in all, and a lineup that leads the league in hitting had some ugly efforts against guys who aren't exactly aces.

Journeyman Ramon Ortiz shut the Giants down in Toronto, recent call-up Tyler Chatwood dominated them Saturday, and Juan Nicasio, whose lock on a rotation spot was tenuous, pitched six shutout innings Sunday.

"It was a lousy road trip," Bochy said.

In a quiet clubhouse, Zito said the Giants need to hold tight until their luck turns. Despite all the issues, they remain tied for second in the N.L. West, a game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"It's May right now," Zito said. "Considering how difficult it's been for us lately, it's not as bad as it could be record-wise."

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