Urban: They may not be so bad 

For two glorious games, spread out over four days, Giants fans were treated to a glimpse of best-case-scenario baseball. And while the mini-joyride ended Tuesday when the bullpen rendered yet another gem by Matt Cain moot, those feel-good games should serve as evidence that this team isn’t nearly as bad as it looked in the ugly first 10 days of the season.

Friday in Pittsburgh, Barry Bonds went deep twice to pace an eight-run attack against the Pirates. And Reclamation Russ (Ortiz), whom the Arizona Diamondbacks essentially paid $25 million to go away, pitched beautifully into the ninth inning.

After the rest of the scheduled three-game series was washed out over the weekend in the Steel City, the Giants scored eight more runs Monday night in support of Barry Zito, who threw up a six-pack of zeroes at Coors Field before three relievers each worked a shutout frame of his own.

Granted, the Pirates and Colorado Rockies aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, and a strong case could be made that they are exactly what the Giants promised they’d be this year — young and promising — before recommitting to old-and-hold-your-breath in the offseason. And yes, that bullpen remains a legitimate source of concern in that it’s very much the worst-case scenario come to life.

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But like faulty heart valves, bullpens can be fixed if the problem is caught early enough, and manager Bruce Bochy developed a reputation as something of a master surgeon in that regard during his many years in San Diego, using the first month or so as a testing-and-evaluation period before prescribing suitable roles that put his relievers in position to succeed.

If he can work that same magic here, the Giants will make fools of those so quick to write them off and call for Brian Sabean’s head on a platter.

You’ve seen enough already to be convinced that Zito, Cain, Matt Morris, Noah Lowry and Ortiz are all solid starters, and very few teams can say that about their entire rotation.

Zito will have a few blowup starts, but he’ll dominate for long stretches, too. Cain is nothing short of a no-hitter waiting to happen. Morris appears to have found a comfort zone in his second year with the club. Lowry has the look of a youngster on the verge of figuring it all out. And Ortiz winning Comeback Player of the Year isn’t that much of a stretch; he’s already come back from the dead.

What about that Golden Girls offense, you ask? It’ll slowly improve over the next several weeks, guaranteed. The Giants are old, not decrepit. And if Sabean finds a way to add at least a semi-power hitter to go with the midseason promotion of Tim Lincecum, the last year — please make it be the last year — of the Bonds Era won’t be so bad, after all.

Mychael Urban is the author of "Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito" and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of "Sportsphone 680" on KNBR (680 AM).

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