Wait — there's a debate about who the Giants' fourth starter will be in the NLCS?

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So I’m reading Andrew Baggarly’s game story in the Mercury
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and I come across this passage:

Will the Giants keep Bumgarner as their No. 4 starter against the Phillies, or turn to Barry Zito? That’s a terrific question.

In that same vein:

  • Will children continue to eat delicious chocolate cake at birthday parties, or will they turn to leek soup? That’s a terrific question.
  • Will young lovers’ romantic nights on the town continue to end in passionate love making, or will they turn to coming home to do laundry and balance the checkbook? That’s a terrific question.
  • Will Craig continue to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every Christmas Eve while enjoying a cocktail and reflecting on the past year of his life, or will he instead watch the entire run of “According to Jim” episodes on DVD while repeatedly hitting himself in the stones with a rubber mallet? That’s a terrific question.

In September and October — when the Giants were in a playoff race, mind you — Madison Bumgarner started five games. In those games he pitched 32 innings. In those innings he struck out 32 men, walked only four and posted an ERA of 1.13.  Last night, in a clinching playoff game, on the road, he threw six effective innings.

In contrast, Barry Zito started six games, and lasted only 29 innings in September and October. He struck out 28 men during that period and walked 18 with an ERA of 4.66. If you throw in his seventh start that number goes up to 6.06. In his last start of the season — a game which could have clinched the NL West — he twice walked men with the bases loaded and left to a chorus of boos. For his efforts, he was left of the Division Series roster.

If there’s anyone out there who thinks “will Bumgarner or Zito start Game 4” is a “terrific question,” I’d truly like to meet them. I’d like to ask them about the world they live in and whether it’s anything like our own.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.