SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Giants are going quickly, quietly, meekly and confusingly.
They are going, going, going and they probably aren’t coming back.
The Giants are losing to the Cincinnati Reds in every way - on every day - and now the Giants are in deep and demoralizing trouble in this National League Division Series.
Sunday’s dismal 9-0 loss at AT&T Park put the Giants down two games to none, on the brink of elimination, and maybe dancing on the brink of many other things.
“We don’t really have a choice - our backs are against the wall,” catcher Buster Posey said in a hushed postgame clubhouse.
“We’ve got to go out and bite, scrap and claw until the end.”
Left unsaid: There hasn’t been a lot of scrapping and clawing so far.
Not even Tim Lincecum riding in from the bullpen for two clean innings could save the Giants on Sunday, and that event came with its own head-scratching drama.
Lincecum - bypassed in the rotation for this series - didn’t warm up much, didn’t seem to know he was actually coming into the game, and still was the Giants’ only successful pitcher on the night.
So there’s your perfect summary of the Giants’ October chaos: The only thing that worked was plugging in the guy they’re trying to avoid using.
But the Giants aren’t losing this series because of the chaos; they’re getting chaotic because they’re simply not as good as Cincinnati. And now the series heads to Cincinnati for Game 3 on Tuesday for a possible Reds clincher. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, would also be at Great American Ball Park, one of the great home-field advantages in baseball.
“It’s not exactly where we want to be,” first baseman Brandon Belt said, “but at the same time it seems like we’ve done pretty good with our backs against the wall this season.
“We’re going to go in on Tuesday looking to win.”
The reality is that the fans who stuck around for the final innings spent the time hugging ushers and waving symbolic good-byes to this team.
It was quiet when this park is supposed to be loud.
“Our plan is to go over there (to Cincinnati) and do the same thing,” Belt said.
But, unless there’s a Cincinnati miracle, the Giants aren’t coming back for any more playoff games. Because the Reds are the better team - better pitching, better hitting, better balanced, better organized.
The Reds are better than the Giants at AT&T Park, and you’d figure they’ll be much, much better at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
In Game 2 on Sunday, Reds starter Bronson Arroyo followed Mat Latos’ Game 1 performance by completely dominating the Giants.
Arroyo retired the first 14 Giants he faced with a mixture of slow curves, change-ups, not-so-fastballs and various fluttering objects.
By the time Belt broke up the perfect game with a single in the fifth inning, the Giants were already down 4-0 and sinking fast.
Nobody could get on base (table-setters Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro are a combined 1 for 17 in the two games).
Nobody hit for power (Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence have combined for two hits in the series).
No Giant could do much of anything.
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner couldn’t come close to matching Arroyo - like Matt Cain in Game 1, Bumgarner gave up a titanic early home run to Ryan Ludwick and couldn’t halt the Reds’ onslaught.
Bumgarner lasted only 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and seven hits. Saturday night, Cain lasted only five innings, giving up three runs.
Everything is falling apart - the Giants won the 2010 World Series built on starting pitching, and that’s unreliable now.
The Giants surged in the second half this season with a rush of offense, and they’ve managed only two runs in two games against the Reds in this series.
The Giants had a great chance to take the first game of this series when Johnny Cueto, the Reds’ Game 1 starter, had to leave after eight pitches Saturday; and the Giants lost that game.
Now the Giants have to win three in a row in Cincinnati, which seems nearly impossible.
“At this point, there’s not much to lose,” Posey said. “It’s go out and give everything you’ve got. I think it’s as simple as that.”
Nothing is going right. The Giants’ heads are spinning and their season is almost over.
That’s why it’s so quiet, and that’s why AT&T was saying goodbye.