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Inflatable Slide

At what part of the season are we at? Choose from the following:

a) Minor turbulence. The seasoned travelers aren't even stirring.

b) Pretty heavy turbulence. White knuckles aren't optional.

c) The oxygen masks have dropped. People are crying. How am I supposed to float on this cushion?

d) The plane caught fire before takeoff. People are slapping each other with Salisbury steaks, trying to put the flames out. This'll be one for the evening news.

Valid points could be made for all four. Yesterday's game was miserable, if only because Noah Lowry pitched such a beautiful game. Sometimes the other team gets five baserunners, and gets five runs out of them. It's a truism that could have been uttered by your grandpappy over a glass of lemonade. Sometimes your team has a bullpen so wretched, so inept, they visibly suck the joy from your eyes again and again and again. That's a truism that was uttered by me over a glass of my own bile. At least, I wish I had a glass. Who's going to clean this up before the cats get to it? Should have brought the glass.

That the Giants have stayed afloat this far is impressive. Barry Bonds is still ailing (or still on double-secret probation if you're a grassy knoller), the one big-ticket item bought to help the bullpen is gone for a good long while, and the vaunted starting staff is performing far below expectations.

So, that's good news, right? If that's all going wrong, and the team isn't buried, the team will be fine when the team is healthy, right? The Giants are swimming along because of Jason Ellison, Lance Niekro, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Pedro Feliz. That's a quartet not worth betting on for the superfecta. One might continue on at this pace. Two, well, that's a stretch, but weirder things have happened. Three's severely pushing it. Four qualifies as borderline ridiculous.

Yesterday's game featured the offensive juggernaut we were expecting without Bonds. Josh Fogg was cruising, getting first-pitch strikes and quick outs. It was still Josh Fogg, though. It was still Rick White. There is hardly a less appropriate sample-size than a single game, but the fear is the performance yesterday is what we should expect going forward. Two, maybe three, runs off pitchers who could generously be called average; that's what we have to look forward to if Jason Ellison's bloops stop finding the outfield grass, or if Ray Durham really does have a non-refundable deposit at Suck Hotel.

The bullpen meltdown is always a nightmare, and it would have been nice for Lowry to finish off Ty Wigginton, but the offense was the scariest part of yesterday's game. There's no real science or support for this, just something that comes from watching Mark Redman, Dave Williams, and Josh Fogg put a pillow over the offense as they slept.