Giants pick Ryan Vogelsong over Tim Lincecum for Game 3

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The Giants unleashed a curveball Sunday, announcing that Ryan Vogelgong would get the nod in Game 3 against the Reds over Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito.

This makes it possible that Lincecum will never pitch in the NLDS, as the Giants could well go to Matt Cain on three days’ rest if they extend the series to a Game 4. Cain threw just 75 pitches in  Saturday’s loss to Cincinnati.

Vogelsong struggled mightily in August and early September, but he bounced back at the end, allowing three runs — one earned — over 17 innings in his final three starts to finish the season 14-9 with a 3.37 ERA.

Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, struggled throughout 2012, finishing 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA. He won three in a row to begin September, but he gave up 12 runs — 11 earned — and four homers in his last two starts. In his only previous postseason, he went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA for the world champs in 2010.

Zito also had a case for the Game 3 start, given that the Giants won each of his final 11 regular-season starts. He ended the year 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA.

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.