Tough stretch awaits scuffling Giants, but it's not time to panic 

Bruce Bochy is steadier than a heart surgeon. He doesn't allow himself to get sucked into the peaks and valleys of a 162-game season and it's a big reason why he is such a great manager.

With that said, it isn't surprising that he described the Giants' need to turn things around on their upcoming roadie with relatively tepid language after their 4-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at AT&T Park on Wednesday.

"It's time to hunker down," Bochy said. "We've got a tough road trip."

Tough is an understatement. I'd probably use words like nasty, frightening or dreadful.

Bochy's club is 10-17 away from China Basin this season, losing series to bottom feeders like the Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. What kind of record will they compile over the next nine games playing against teams with three of the top five records in the National League?

The Giants will open the road trip in the desert Friday against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks and then they'll fly east to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates (fourth-best record in NL) and the Atlanta Braves (first place in the NL East).

Despite their woes, the Giants have managed to stay within a couple of games of first place throughout the first 59 games of the season, but another road disaster could put them in a hole fairly quickly.

But even if the Giants get shelled and find themselves five, six or seven games out of first when they return to The City, it would still be way too early to hit the panic button, and Bochy knows this, which is why he uses words like "tough" instead of nasty, frightening or dreadful.

The Giants' issue right now is starting pitching, obviously, and he has to know that it can't be this atrocious forever. Barry Zito is fine. He gave the Giants another solid outing on Wednesday. They can't ask for too much more out of him.

Timmy is Timmy and nowadays that means he's probably going to be inconsistent. I would let go of the idea that he's going to regain his pre-2012 form and just be happy you have a former NL Cy Young Award winner as your fifth starter.

So when you get down to it, the problem is really Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner. These are the arms the Giants rode into the playoffs last season and they'll need to get it going (sub Chad Gaudin for Vogelsong right now) if the team is going to take a stab at defending their title this season. You don't have to stretch your imagination to picture these guys putting zeroes on the board at some point. It's not like they forgot how to pitch.

In October, the Giants went through the first nine games of the playoffs with one quality start, but then the rotation caught fire and black and orange confetti started falling at City Hall.

Things can change quickly in baseball and that's why Bochy's staying cool. He knows there's plenty of time to hunker down.

Paul Gackle is a columnist for The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @GackleReport.

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Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015


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