SAN FRANCISCO — Jake Peavy has seen the first-to-worst thing before, and he knows that at some point, you stop pointing to the calendar and saying, “It’s only April.”
Peavy was on a Red Sox team last season that got a title defense off to a slow start and ended up trading key players, including Peavy, as a last-place finish became a reality. He said several Giants stood around in a back room after Friday’s dispiriting 9-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks and talked about the need to quickly find a fix.
“We understand these last eight games have not gone well,” he said of the losing streak, the longest by the Giants since 2007. “You do put yourself behind the 8-ball, especially with teams starting fast in the division — really good teams that will be there in the end. You can’t fall behind. There’s a lot of baseball left, we’re not panicking by any means, but it’s time to play with more of a sense of urgency for sure.”
The Giants have played 12 games, but they’re already five behind a Dodgers team that was the heavy preseason favorite in the division. At 3-9, they’re also five games behind a Rockies club that looks stronger and they trail the rebuilt Padres by 4 1/2 games. After getting just four hits against Josh Collmenter on Friday, the Giants sit 3 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Diamondbacks.
You don’t lose a division in April, but you sure don’t do yourself any favors if you fall this far behind this many teams. Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans are always evaluating what they have and what they need, and thus far the Giants have shown that the needs might be too great.
Peavy was the latest to suffer a brutal night, giving up four runs in 3 2/3 as he felt the same back tightness that forced him to miss his first start of the season. He said the issue, tightness of the sacroiliac joint in the lower back, first popped up on him during a long second inning.
“That happened, but I didn’t make any good pitches,” he said. “I’ve got some issues we’ve got to get right. I was plenty good enough to be out there. I’ve got to help the team more than I did.”
Peavy said he needs to get “right mechanically,” but the Giants may need to decide if that’s possible while things are going wrong physically. The veteran will be reevaluated on Saturday.
“You could tell he wasn’t finishing his pitches,” Bochy said. “I told him that.”
Peavy, visibly frustrated by the outing, said he wished he could have made one more pitch to Jake Lamb to keep it a 1-0 game. But even that might not have been enough for a Giants team that did nothing against Collmenter, who pitched the first complete game in the Majors this season while barely breaking 84 mph.
“I wish we had a magic wand,” Bochy said. “But we don’t.”
What they have, Peavy said, is pride and work ethic.
“It’s not for lack of effort, it’s not for lack of preparation,” he said. “That’s all I can tell you from the players side. We’ve been grinding.”
It hasn’t been enough. The Giants have dropped their first five home games for the first time in 15 years. They’ve been blanked three times in nine losses. Those numbers haven’t been enough to jolt them out of this, but maybe the ring ceremony will do the trick. Peavy said the guys will make sure to enjoy it, and then it’s back to work.
“We understand that things have to get better,” he said.
--- Casey McGehee didn’t look right, and it’s unclear what the Giants are going to do about that. Asked about McGehee’s movement at third, Bochy said, “He’s doing OK, but we’ll check on him tomorrow. It’ll probably be a day-to-day thing for a couple days. We’ll see where he’s at.”
If McGehee feels fine physically, he’ll be back out at third base tomorrow, and the staff will get a larger sample size from which to make a judgement. Tonight, McGehee always looked a step behind. He didn’t move on one hard grounder to his left and never got close to a double down the line later in the game. He also had that awkward attempt at a diving stop.
“It felt good to get back out there,” McGehee said. “I felt pretty good. I’m going to feel it from time to time, that’s just the way it goes. It’s getting better. I didn’t feel I had any setbacks or anything.”
It has become clear through two weeks that McGehee is a tough player and one who really wants to be in the lineup even if he's less than 100 percent, but at some point the Giants might need him to simply get back to something closer to full health. They’re not scoring enough runs or pitching well enough to also be having defensive issues.
--- I’m going to put Collmenter on the Clayton Kershaw All-Stars, the list of opposing players you really can’t help but respect for how they play the game. The guy warmed up in the 12th inning on Thursday night and was prepared to come in for a save, then came out the next night and nearly outhit the Giants all by himself. That was pretty impressive stuff, especially since, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic noted, Collmenter threw just seven of 114 pitches over 84 mph.
—- Lamb this season: 9 RBI, all against the Giants.
—- If you’re coming out here tomorrow, gates open at 4 p.m. and the ceremony starts at about 5:15. It’ll be a good time regardless of what’s happened the last week. And if you want something a bit cheerier than this recap, here’s my story on what guys do with their rings.