Remember last October, when the Giants stepped into Citi Field and wrested the National League wild-card game away from the New York Mets?
A month into this season, let’s just say that things have gotten wilder for both clubs. The Giants got off to a miserable start, Madison Bumgarner wiped out on a dirt bike, and Bruce Bochy’s beleaguered boys are coming off a three-game drubbing at Great American Ball Park in which, counting Sunday’s 4-0 loss, the Reds outscored them 31-5.
If the Giants are a Don Rickles punchline, the Mets are a Rodney Dangerfield bit. The Mets rotation immolated, right-hander Matt Harvey was suspended without pay Sunday because he played golf instead of reporting to the ballpark, their medical staff is under fire after Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard tried play through injuries only to put themselves out for longer, and items purchased at a love boutique somehow made it onto the team’s Twitter feed.
There is no telling what level of dysfunction might rear itself when a three-game series between these two clubs begins on Monday. At least the Mets, at 14-16, have not played themselves into 2018 yet.
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The Giants are in danger of packing it in. They are 11-21 after losing all three games at Cincinnati in one of the least competitive series they have played in a long, long time.
Johnny Cueto was better than Matt Cain or Ty Blach in this series, which is clearing an ankle-high bar. Cueto struck out 10 in seven innings but shortstop Christian Arroyo’s error led to a pair of unearned runs and the right-hander gave up solo home runs to Scott Schebler and Zack Cozart.
Of course, Cueto had to be perfect because the Giants offense was catatonic yet again. With this team, it is hard to know where to point the first finger.
As awful as their pitching and defense were in this series at Great American Ball Park, they managed to score just five runs over three games against the only team in the major leagues that had a higher rotation ERA than their own.
It will be a boost when Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford returns from the disabled list. He is scheduled to play six innings in a rehab game Monday for Double-A Richmond, and if his strained right groin responds well, he could be activated for Tuesday’s game against the Mets.
The Giants have weathered the loss of Buster Posey when he spent a week on the concussion list, and two-thirds of their starting outfielders (Denard Span, Jarrett Parker) are on the DL. Bumgarner won’t throw a pitch for at least a couple months after separating his shoulder on a dirt track in Colorado.
But it was never more apparent than in this series with the Reds: Crawford’s absence is more destabilizing than anyone else the Giants could lose. Countless hits bled through the left side on Friday and Saturday, when Eduardo Nunez was struggling to cover ground at shortstop. And the Reds immediately put Cueto in the stretch when rookie shortstop Christian Arroyo booted a ground ball to start the first inning.
The Giants weren’t been able to keep Billy Hamilton off base all series, even when he hit a ball right at someone. Hamilton reached on Arroyo’s error, and with Cueto quickening his delivery, the Reds followed with three singles to take a 2-0 lead.
Schebler homered in the third and Cozart took Cueto deep in the fifth.
Cueto managed to get through seven innings so that the Giants wouldn’t have to stretch the bullpen blanket for a third consecutive day. It was Cueto’s 100th career start in this ballpark, and the blister on his middle finger held up.
The Giants didn’t provide him any support. Burlingame’s Scott Feldman threw a four-hitter for his third career shutout. Arroyo didn’t score after hitting a leadoff double in the fifth. Gorkys Hernandez couldn’t check his swing while stranding a pair of runners in the second inning.
Their 3.28 runs per game rank as the lowest in the N.L. They haven’t scored more than five runs in a game since April 14. Their 19 home runs are the fewest in the majors, and only the Kansas City Royals have a lower slugging percentage.
Oh, and the one healthy and effective member of the Mets’ rotation, Jacob deGrom, awaits them Monday.