Quite a pitcher’s duel in Tropicana Field this afternoon as Felix Hernandez and the Mariners took on Chris Archer and the Rays.
Archer actually outpitched — or at least out game-scored — Hernandez for eight innings. Archer shut down the Mariners’ lineup, allowing only two hits in eight innings, not walking anyone and striking out 12. That’s a 90 game score which makes it the third best performance by that metric all season. Through eight innings Hernandez matched him in the runs allowed department, though he did walk a guy, allowed two more hits and struck out “only” six.
Then the ninth inning happened. Kevin Cash took the ball from Archer, who had thrown only 95 pitches. Maybe he was getting tired. Maybe Cash just thought it was time for his closer, Brad Boxberger to come in. The same Boxberger who took the loss in extras last night when he gave up a homer to Kyle Seager. He’d get back up on that horse this time, right?
Nope: he retired two batters but walked two batters and then gave up a three-run homer to Nelson Cruz. Felix Hernandez, who had only thrown 86 pitches through his eight innings, came out for the ninth and set the Rays down in order, striking out two more guys. Ballgame.
What a pair of performances. What a change of luck for Felix Hernandez, who until this year tended to get no-decisions in games like these.
The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.
Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.
As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.
Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.
The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”