In the last week, the Cardinals have faced the 2014 No-Hit Triumvirate of Josh Beckett, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum and were shut out in each game. The degree of difficulty doesn't decrease Thursday.
Madison Bumgarner's resume lacks a no-hitter, but the 24-year-old has cemented his place among the Majors' best southpaws with an outstanding first half of the 2014 season. Prior to his last outing, Bumgarner (9-5, 2.90 ERA) had thrown at least seven innings in his six previous starts, a span in which he allowed just eight earned runs.
He's consistently given the Giants a chance to win, but his teammates haven't consistently taken advantage of his stellar performances, especially at AT&T Park, where the Giants are just 3-5 when Bumgarner takes the mound. They're 7-2 in his road starts.
Bumgarner is 3-3 with a 3.57 ERA in six career regular season starts against St. Louis. The Cardinals mustered three hits during seven shutout innings against Bumgarner May 30 at Busch Stadium. He struck out 10 that night.
The Cardinals will send young Carlos Martinez to the mound for his fourth start of the season. The hard-throwing 21-year-old's arm has been stretched out through his first three starts after he started the season in the bullpen, and the Cardinals say he's now able to reach 100 pitches if necessary.
Martinez is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts (13 1/3 innings, four earned runs and 12 strikeout) and 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 30 relief appearances this season. The Cardinals are 3-0 in his starts.
Cardinals: Offense Struggling
Prior to Wednesday night's game, manager Mike Matheny was asked why Oscar Taveras was slotted to play center field. His response summed up the team's current reality: The need for offense supersedes the concerns over him in center field.
Prior to Wednesday night's 2-0 victory, the Cardinals had a 24-inning scoreless streak and had been shut out in three of their last five games. Though, the opposing pitchers in those three shutouts weren't too shabby -- Beckett, Kershaw and Lincecum.
"I think we've been very aware of it," Matheny said when asked of the team's recent quality of competition. "It's kind of a two-edged sword giving too much credit, because we can beat guys like that when they're at their best. We can. We had Lincecum up against the ropes [Tuesday night] and couldn't make it happen.
"I think you fall into a trap saying, 'Well, if we're facing these real good pitchers who are hot right now then we can kind of just expect good things aren't going to happen.' But I think after watching guys go out there and fight with a positive attitude and the expectation that things are going to go well, we review situations we had, the pitches that were made and then I think we can be more honest and say, 'They didn't give us a whole lot.' When that's the case, it's a little easier to swallow."
The numbers, though, remain unappealing -- they're hitting just .224 (66-for-294) through the first nine games of their current road trip.
Giants: Power Outage For Morse
Michael Morse's power has been out for a while. Almost an entire month, to be exact.
Morse still leads the Giants in both home runs (13) and RBIs (44), but has added very little to those numbers recently. Morse's last long ball came June 5 in Cincinnati. He hasn't homered at AT&T Park since May 15.
The numbers get worse. He's 9-for-49 with two extra-base hits and no RBIs in his last 15 games. He has just two RBIs since June 8. In that same span, the Giants are 5-16. Manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that Morse has succumbed to the same illness that Pablo Sandoval dealt with a few weeks ago and that nearly half the clubhouse had felt under the weather with the same bug in recent weeks.
"It just zaps you," Bochy said.
Morse's power outage, combined with the absence of Brandon Belt, has left Bochy's lineup nearly devoid of power. The Giants have hit just three home runs in their last 13 games and eight in their last 21 home games. They're 34-14 when they do homer, compared with a paltry 13-23 when they don't.
• The Giants are hitting .138 (10-for-72) with RISP in their last 11 games.
• With three hits Wednesday, Matt Carpenter upped his career average against the Giants to .520 (26-for-50), tops among active players with at least 50 plate appearances against San Francisco. He's hit safely in 10 consecutive games against the Giants.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.