Now That's More Like It 

When this season started and the Giants sallied forth without Barry Bonds, the tongues clucked, the heads shook, and everyone figured the Giants offense would be anemic.

Ha! Two Michael Tucker grand slams later, the O was off and running. Late into April they were at or near the top of the league in runs scored, even with Moises Alou out for a DL stint. Mike Matheny was kicking Bucco ass; Jason Ellison was running riot; the faithful were almost, nearly, just about giddy, if it's allowed to spell giddy with an asterisk.

Remember those days?

Nothing like a tour through Minute "Enron Nearly Rhymes With Ten-Run" Maid Park and Coors "Coors" Field to cure the temporary offensive case of the giddies. The Giants suddenly are squatting smack in the middle of the National League in runs scored. They are in danger of becoming the worst home-run hitting team in the league.

Now that's more like it.

Today's game -- natch, the entire road trip -- was exactly what we were expecting in March: not a total disaster, Brett Tomko pitching pretty darn well, a pleasant surprise of a bullpen, Noah Lowry, er, well, never mind, and the possibility of one of those minor league hottie pitchers helping out. (Brad Hennessey, if Batgirl were a Giant fan, you'd be Boyfriend of the Day.)

But, oh, that offense. It looked like someone snuck a fistful of Civil War-era grape shot into everyone's bat right around the time Roger Clemens took the mound on Saturday. No dishonor in getting mowed down by a 42-year-old whack job with an unsettling fixation on the letter K and dyed blond hair, but then the Transportation Security Administration, fine folk that they are, somehow missed all that lead filling when the Giants put their bats through the X-Ray machines at Houston Hobby. Come on, you upstanding civil servants, this ain't no party. You've got slugging percentages to protect.

Now the Giants are free to move around the country, their burdens lightened by such wee numbers as Marquis Grissom's batting average and the ever-shrinking team OPS.

Is this it? Have the chickens, as Malcolm once suggested, come home to roost?

Who knows: just as the offense charged out of the gates without Bonds or Alou, it could pick up steam again as Durham gets back on track or Snow and Alou regain strength from their flu bouts or pigs fly over McCovey Cove. But as Jon Miller mentioned today, we're at the quarter pole of the season -- time flies when you're bitching and moaning! -- and the Giants are solidly, spectacularly mediocre at best.

Key moment of today's game:

First inning, Ray Durham on second with a leadoff double, and Jason Ellison cannot move him to third base. That set the tone.

Bright moments:

* Jason Schmidt returns next week.

* Lance Niekro continues to hit home runs and post an OPS higher than Damon Minor's career .738.

* Brad Hennessey is this year's Noah Lowry. (But Noah Lowry is this year's Jeff Juden.)

Fun stat of the day:

Juan Marichal was the majors' winningest pitcher in the 1960s with 191 victories. He started 457 games and completed 244 of them.


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