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Mets have won 12 of their last 13 games

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With a 5-0 shutout of the Marlins on Tuesday night, the Mets won their fifth consecutive game. It is, in fact, their 12th victory in their last 13 games. Granted, it wasn’t the most difficult part of the schedule as those 13 games include a game against the Padres, six against the last-place Pirates, three against the third-place White Sox, and three against the last-place Marlins. But the Mets took full advantage, gaining ground on every other team in the NL East. Once as far back as 14.5 games on July 14, the Mets are now 8.5 games behind the Braves and could move into second place as soon as this week depending on how the Phillies and Nationals fare.

In Tuesday night’s game, Zack Wheeler — assumed to be on his way to a new team on July 31 — tossed a gem, blanking the Marlins over eight innings on eight hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer and Pete Alonso also went yard for his 36th dinger of the year.

Entering Tuesday’s action, the biggest contributors on offense since July 25 (when the aforementioned streak began) have been Michael Conforto (5 HR, 11 RBI), Jeff McNeil (5 HR, 9 RBI), J.D. Davis (3 HR, 9 RBI). Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard has an 0.63 ERA in his last two starts. Jacob deGrom has a 1.29 ERA over his last three. Seth Lugo has been perfect since July 18.

A month ago, manager Mickey Callaway said, “We can sneak into the Wild Card. We can sneak back into the division.” We all kind of laughed at him. I even wrote, “If they were to even sneak in and claim a Wild Card spot, that would be one of the most surprising things to ever happen in baseball.” Well, who’s laughing now? The Mets are two games out of the second Wild Card slot in the National League.

That being said, the Mets’ schedule gets tougher going forward. They still have nine games against the Braves remaining as well as six against the Nationals. Outside the division, the Mets will face the Indians, Cubs, and Dodgers three times apiece. The Mets did what they were supposed to do, taking advantage of a weak part of the schedule. Now they need to hold their own against better teams.

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.”