It’s now or never for the Giants and their hapless offense

San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff reacts after striking out with two men on base to end the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver on May 17, 2011. Colorado came from behind to defeat the Giants 5-3. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

When Buster Posey was lost for the season following a collision at home plate with Marlins’ outfielder Scott Cousins back in May, one could have pointed to that moment as a low point in the San Francisco Giants’ 2011 season. But oh how things have gotten much worse.

On Monday night, the Cubs’ Randy Wells threw his first career shutout while limiting San Fran’s hopeless offense to just two hits in a 7-0 victory. (For those wondering, yes, that’s 5.00-plus ERA Randy Wells I’m referring to.) The losing pitcher for the Giants was none other than ace Tim Lincecum, who received zero run support for the 10th time in his last 28 starts.

The economy has looked more efficient in the past two weeks than the Giants’ offense has, which is frustrating when you consider how GM Brian Sabean gave away the organization’s best prospect to acquire Carlos Beltran from the Mets. Beltran was supposed to provide the team with just enough offense to get them to the postseason where their pitching could (hopefully) dominate like it did in 2010. Instead, Beltran has been sucked into the same black hole as the rest of the Giants’ hitters (save for Pablo Sandoval) and once again Sabean has been had in a trade (which is nothing new).

Of course, as infuriating as Sabean can be in his decision-making at times (Miguel Tejada or Orlando Cabrera anyone?), it’s not his fault that seemingly every night the Giants send a new player to the infirmary. Posey and second baseman Freddy Sanchez (one of Sabean’s better trade acquisitions) are out for the season while Beltran, Sandoval, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito, Mark DeRosa, Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, and Nate Schierholtz are either on the disabled list now or have at least spent some time on it this season. It appears as though the baseball gods have returned to wreak havoc on the Giants following their magical run in 2010.

Now if you’re among the many people who felt that last year’s World Series title was a fluke, then you’re certainty entitled to your opinion. I think your opinion is pure horse dung, but you’re entitled to your opinion nonetheless.

No, I don’t think last season was a fluke. I think the Giants got hot at the right time and their outstanding pitching staff did what it had done for much of the season: Stifle its opponents. I think it’s hard to repeat in baseball and history supports that claim. I think the Giants were fortunate not to suffer too many costly injuries and that the Padres choked. I think the insertion of Buster Posey into that lineup last year lifted this team to new heights. I think it was the Giants year, plain and simple.

But now that below average offense is even worse and has decided to eat the Giants’ spectacular pitching staff, taking one bite each night. Not one of the Giants’ top four starters (Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong) have an ERA over 3.60 and three of them (Lincecum, Cain and Vogelsong) don’t have an ERA north of 2.90. But because the offense is a complete and utter disaster, the Giants now sit five games back of the red-hot Diamondbacks in the NL West.

The ironic thing is that the Giants were exactly five games back of San Diego at this time last year and they wound up winning the World Series. But that was last year. The Padres were already in the midst of a five-game losing streak and quite frankly, this is a different Giants team than it was a year ago. They had confidence, swagger and cohesion last season, which are three things they haven’t had in over a month now. While another September miracle is certainly within their reach, this team seemingly doesn’t have the same fight in it as it did in 2010.

There’s no magical answer here: Either guys like Beltran, Torres, Ross, Aubrey Huff and Brandon Belt help Sandoval and the pitching staff or the Giants won’t be defending their World Series title for much longer. That’s it – that’s as simple as it’s going to get. Forget lineup changes or the idea that a minor league player (ah, Gary Brown) is going to save this team…they just have to play better baseball over this next month.

It’s do or die time for the defending champs.

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