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Blue Jays tack on two runs in sixth inning of ALCS Game 2 vs. Royals

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A universal ground rule came into play at the start of the top of the sixth inning with the Blue Jays batting against Royals starter Yordano Ventura in Game 2 of the ALCS. Josh Donaldson hit a foul pop-up behind the plate. The ball clipped a wire supporting the netting behind home plate, but catcher Salvador Perez still managed to make a nifty barehanded catch. As is the ground rule at every stadium, however, the ball was ruled dead and Donaldson remained alive. He beat out a ground ball to shortstop Alcides Escobar for a leadoff infield single.

Ventura then walked Jose Bautista before Edwin Encarnacion snuck a ground ball past Escobar into left field, plating a sliding Donaldson to extend the Jays’ lead to 2-0. Chris Colabello struck out, revealing light at the end of the tunnel for the Royals. Troy Tulowitzki had other ideas, sending an RBI double to right field to make it 3-0. Ventura walked Russell Martin to load the bases before departing.

Luke Hochevar took the hill in place of Ventura. He induced an infield pop-up from Kevin Pillar, then got Ryan Goins to hit an inning-ending 3-1 ground out to the right side. The Royals still have four turns to make up the three-run deficit. However, Jays starter David Price has been nearly untouchable. He has retired every batter since Alcides Escobar singled to lead off the game. The lefty has four strikeouts in five innings, having thrown 52 pitches.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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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.”