Monday night's Cubs-Giants game in San Francisco was 0-0 through four innings. In the fifth, Tim Lincecum hung a changeup to Alfonso Soriano, who deposited said hanging changeup into the left-center bleachers.
When you pitch for the Giants, you know one run can cost you a ballgame. Lincecum muttered something that may have rhymed with "Buck Showalter." In the seventh inning, trailing 1-0, Geovany Soto belted a fastball into the left-field stands and later, after Orlando Cabrera booted a potential double-play ball, Blake DeWitt floated a ball into the right-field corner that cleared the fence for a three-run homer. It was the first time Lincecum had allowed three home runs in a game in his career. Meanwhile, in Arizona, the Diamondbacks scored four runs in the sixth off Colorado rookie Alex White and Daniel Hudson tossed seven scoreless innings. Arizona's lead in the NL West is up to 5 games.
Is the race over? Is it time for the Giants' title defense to rest in peace? Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds report gives Arizona a 71 percent chance of winning the division. Is there really any hope of San Francisco turning things around? The Giants have been shut out 13 times, scored one run 17 times, and two runs 29 times (they managed to win 11 of those games anyway). So they've scored two runs or fewer in more than half their games. Carlos Beltran has one home run in 70 at-bats with the Giants and has apparently tried to compensate for his health issues by being more aggressive -- he had a 61/60 SO/BB ratio with the Mets, but that's deteriorated to 16/2 with the Giants.
It puts enormous strain on the pitching staff to be perfect every time out.
And as Lincecum showed on Monday, even the best can get beat.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.