Braves rookie outfielder Austin Riley swung for the fences again on Saturday, boosting the club to a 6-4 lead over the Tigers with a two-run shot in the top of the sixth inning. The home run — a 427-footer that sailed over the bullpen and into the left field stands — not only marked Riley’s eighth homer of the year, but placed him in a unique subset of rookie hitters, too.
Per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, Riley is just the fourth MLB hitter to notch eight or more home runs through his first 16 career games. Following Saturday’s feat, he joined the likes of former rookies Carlos Delgado (eight home runs in 13 games), Trevor Story (eight homers in 13 games), and Rhys Hoskins (nine homers in 16 games).
Riley, 22, was ranked fourth in the Braves’ system (and no. 34 overall) by MLB Pipeline at the start of the 2019 season. So far, he’s lived up to his billing, slashing a comfortable .349/.388/.762 with 10 extra-base hits, 22 RBI (tied for most by any player in their first 16 career games), and a 1.150 OPS through 67 plate appearances.
Thanks to his timely home run, the Braves improved their record with a 10-5 win over the Tigers. At 22-33, they currently trail the Phillies by 2.5 games for first place in the NL East.
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.”