SAN FRANCISCO – After the Giants dropped 10 games below .500 Wednesday, Matt Cain insisted there was nothing physically wrong with him to explain why he couldn't survive a single inning in the worst start of his career.
Cain was horrible in surrendering three runs, three walks and getting only two outs with 36 mostly wayward pitches before manager Bruce Bochy stalked out of the dugout with the hook before a stunned capacity crowd at AT&T Park.
The 7-2 loss to the New York Mets was essentially settled before many fans had even taken their seats. The Giants are that bad, and the reasons are beyond physical ailments or quick fixes via trades. Like Cain, several other World Series heroes a mere nine months ago are performing at last-place levels in every phase of the game.
"This is the worst I've seen," Cain said. "We're not doing a lot of things right. It's pretty disappointing."
That's an understatement. No one is throwing in the towel; the National League West is weak and far from decided.
"We're still in this thing," Bochy insisted after the Giants lost for the 16th time in 19 games.
But what else can you call the current run but an all-out free fall? When the Mets can get their first series sweep in San Francisco since 1994, you know the Giants have reached rock bottom of a steep fall.
Or have they?
Wasn't rock bottom supposed to be Monday night, when the Giants stranded 18 runners in a 16-inning loss to the same Mets? Wasn't it rock bottom last week when the Reds' Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter against the Giants? Wasn't it rock bottom when the Giants lost eight of nine road games, including being swept by Los Angeles Dodgers?
The bottom keeps dropping each day.
The Giants took the field with no energy or urgency, and after losing the first two games against the Mets and two of three to the Dodgers, Cain needed to be Cain.
The Giants needed Mr. Perfect Game, but an impostor took the mound, someone with no command and minimal confidence. It was excruciating to watch as Bochy got the bullpen up during the fourth batter Cain faced. The pitcher had to be injured, went the prevailing sentiment, because it was the first time in 254 starts that he failed to get out of the first inning. This couldn't happen without a dire reason to explain it.
Well, it did.
Cain walked leadoff man Eric Young. Then Young quickly stole second because teams know they can run on the Giants (it was the 64th steal the team has allowed this season). The throw from catcher Buster Posey sailed into center field. Young didn't react at first, but he probably knew that center fielder Gregor Blanco doesn't have a strong arm; Blanco is playing regularly only because Angel Pagan is injured.
Still, Young might have been out at third if Pablo Sandoval hadn't fallen backward and away from the base as Blanco's throw came in.
Sandoval is horribly out of shape, and his only contribution for the day was a broken-bat bloop single off Mets starter Zack Wheeler. Hunter Pence went 0 for 4, swinging without any discrimination at pitches at eye level. Shortstop Brandon Crawford made another error and had trouble fielding grounders, though he did have two hits and an RBI after the outcome was decided.
The Giants had just one home run in a six-game homestand, during which they went 1-5. They are 1-8 in July, and they haven't won a series in nearly a month.
Meanwhile, the Giants were shut down by Wheeler – the team's former top prospect traded in 2011 for Carlos Beltran.
That move is panned, now that the Giants' vaunted pitching staff has crashed and Wheeler would be a savior. The big right-hander was dealt for a player who left the Giants after the 2011 season.
Criticism of the deal is not fair. The Giants were going for it in '11. Beltran took his time signing that winter, and the Giants went with Pagan and Melky Cabrera instead. They won the World Series in 2012, the second in three years – but that doesn't seem to matter now.
It's a new season, nothing is going right with this team – and no one is happy.