SAN FRANCISCO -- There were little ripples and big ripples from Madison Bumgarner's performance Sunday, and each new wave put the Giants in deeper water.
The immediate crisis point is that Bumgarner's poor outing put the Giants in a Game 1 hole.
The larger issue, though, concerns Bumgarner's status for the rest of this series and the way that affects the entire pitching staff.
The Giants are built on starting pitching and haven't gotten much good from their rotation -- most worryingly focused on Bumgarner, who had his second consecutive bad playoff start.
The essence: Bumgarner is out of sorts, probably at least partly because of fatigue, and he is unlikely to get it back anytime soon.
Bumgarner doesn't want to concede any of this, but late Sunday he didn't dispute that he basically is just trying to gut it out right now.
How did he feel out there?
"Uh, not very good," Bumgarner said after his 32/3-inning, six-run performance, which lifted his playoff ERA to 14.73.
"I mean, that's the way it's been the past few starts. Not a whole lot of life on the ball. But at the same time you've still got to find a way to make pitches."
Manger Bruce Bochy, as is his habit, soft-pedaled Bumgarner's problems, arguing that Bumgarner could have had a better night with a few breaks and a few better pitches.
The Giants' bullpen settled things down after Bumgarner departed, and the offense rallied to make it interesting.
And the Giants trailed Cincinnati 2-0 and still won that N.L. Divisional Series, of course.
But starting pitching is supposed to lead the way for the Giants, and it's not happening.
It was obvious from the first inning that Bumgarner's fastball wasn't near top form and that his other pitches lacked bite.
Bumgarner gave up two-run home runs to David Freese and Carlos Beltran in the second and fourth innings, respectively, and left the game trailing 6-0.
And Bochy would not say whether he still plans to have Bumgarner make his next scheduled start, which would be in Game 5.
"We'll talk about it, where Bum's at," Bochy said. "He came out with good stuff, but it dropped a little bit.
"But he's one of our guys. He's had a great year, and we've seen what this kid's done for us, during the season and in (the 2010) postseason."
Asked if he expects to get the Game 5 start, Bumgarner shrugged.
"I don't know," Bumgarner said. "I don't know what they're going to do. I'm sure they'll do whatever's best."
It seems beyond likely that Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti have to look beyond Bumgarner for that start -- and they have Tim Lincecum as an obvious choice.
But here are the ripples: That probably would remove Lincecum as a valuable super reliever for the next two games -- Lincecum again performed beautifully in that role Sunday.
And if Lincecum is slotted for Game 5, that practically locks Barry Zito into Game 4, and that could come with the series on the line.
Which, especially after Zito's short stint in Game 4 of the NLDS, is assuredly not a happy thought for anyone connected to the Giants franchise.
"We certainly need some good starts," Bochy said, "there's no question about it."
It's not hard to conclude that fatigue is part of this -- throughout the staff and especially with the 23-year-old Bumgarner, who hit a tough spot late this season, registering a 5.47 ERA in September.
Asked if he is mostly doing this on guts of late, Bumgarner acknowledged that to be the case.
"Yeah, I mean ... trying to," Bumgarner said. "Trying to just cut back on stuff in between and just go out there and try to fight through it, make pitches. Just having a hard time with it right now."
Are there any health issues?
"No, my body feels great," Bumgarner said. "Just, like I said, the stuff's not where it normally is."
On Sunday, his fastball looked lifeless and clocked at 89 to 91 mph, and his cutter was hittable all night.
Against the Cardinals' stacked lineup, that was a recipe for big trouble, and it was a mammoth departure from Bumgarner's 2010 postseason success as a rookie.
"You can't start feeling sorry for yourself," Bumgarner said. "You've got to keep going out there and fighting and playing for everybody else in here. You can't start feeling sorry for yourself.
"You've just got to make little adjustments, whatever it might be. If a pitch is not as sharp, just start it a little more in or whatever you want to do. You've just got to try to find a way through it."
But Bumgarner might have hit a wall that he can't get through. The only real cure for this is rest, and the Giants have no time for that.
They will have to adjust. The strength of this team is teetering. And the ripples keep hitting them.