Brandon Morrow throws two-hitter in Jays’ victory

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Finally breaking through after 2 1/2 inconsistent seasons as a starter, Brandon Morrow picked up his seventh win in spectacular fashion Wednesday, throwing a two-hit shutout against the White Sox.

It’s Morrow’s second shutout in four starts; he also tossed a three-hitter against the Mets on May 19.

Morrow had the big outing tonight despite just five strikeouts. Morrow finished with some of the best strikeout rates in the majors in 2010 (10.9 K/9 IP) and ’11 (10.2 K/9 IP), but he ended those years with ERAs of 4.49 and 4.72. This year, he has a more modest 7.8 K/9 IP, but it hasn’t stopped him from amassing a fine 2.90 ERA and an exceptional 0.99 WHIP to date.

If the new Morrow is here to stay, the Jays could have an imposing rotation led by he, Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez the next few years. They also possess a minor league system stocked with about as many quality arms as any in the league.

Madison Bumgarner apparently hunts bears, too

Madison Bumgarner
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We welcomed “Mason Saunders” into our lives on Sunday, thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan. Mason Saunders is the alias of Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner when he competes in rodeos, something he’s done as recently as December (when he was still a free agent).

Given that one of Bumgarner’s other extracurricular activities, riding dirt bikes, resulted in a serious injury, many have been wondering how the Diamondbacks would react to the news that the lefty they inked to a five-year contract two months ago is roping steers in his spare time. It seems like the Diamondbacks just accept that that’s who Bumgarner is.

On Tuesday, Baggarly and Buchanan answered some frequently asked questions about the whole Bumgarner-rodeo thing. They mentioned that former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in a radio interview on KNBR, slipped in that Bumgarner also hunts bears in his off-time. Bochy said, “You think, ‘Madison, you’re looking at signing your biggest contract ever to set yourself up for life and you’re going to risk it on the rodeo?’ But he’s got confidence. I mean there’s some stories I do know that he probably wouldn’t want me to share, with him bear hunting, and the tight situations he’s gotten himself into.”

As Baggarly and Buchanan explained, when Bumgarner — I mean, Saunders — is roping steers, he’s not taking much of a risk. They wrote, “The header and heeler don’t chase the steer around the ring. Each trial is more or less a one-shot deal and it’s over in less than 10 seconds. If the header or heeler misses on the first attempt, then no time is recorded.” Bumgarner has also said he ropes with his non-pitching hand. Hunting bears is an entirely different level of risk, one would imagine. That being said, no one seemed to be surprised that Bumgarner moonlights as a serious rodeo competitor. That’s likely also the case that he, as Bochy puts it, goes “mano a mano” against bears.