San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, the ace of the National League champions’ staff and the winner of two games in the 2014 World Series, got his first taste of victory as a professional in Lexington.
Bumgarner was selected in the first round of the June 2007 draft by the Giants, but did not sign a contract until August of that year, and began his professional career in 2008 with the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League.
After a rough start against Greensboro in his professional debut in Augusta April 6, 2008 — he took the loss after giving up seven hits and five earned runs in three innings —Bumgarner started against the Lexington Legends at then-Applebee’s Park, now Whitaker Bank Ballpark, on April 12.
Bumgarner’s teammates put three runs on the board in the top of the first inning. T he 18-year-old lefty wasn’t spectacular, but he left with a 4-2 lead after five innings. He allowed two earned runs on four hits, struck out four batters and walked none. The Legends scored one run in the third inning on a double by Ronnie Ramirez and ground outs by Nick Moresi and Matt Cusick. They added one in the fourth on a triple by Steve Brown and a ground out by Max Sapp. The GreenJackets went on to win 5-3, and Bumgarner was the winning pitcher, evening his record at 1-1.
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Bumgarner lost his next start at home against Kannapolis April 18, leaving him with a 1-2 mark and a 7.71 earned run average. But South Atlantic League batters were no match for him the rest of the way, as he finished the season with a record of 15-3. He tied for the league lead in wins with Levi Maxwell of Kannapolis and led the league in ERA at 1.46 and in strikeouts with 164. He won seven straight decisions after the April loss in Kannapolis, and won seven more in a row after losing at Rome July 10.
Bumgarner faced the Legends one more time. On August 15 in Augusta – two weeks after his 19 th birthday -- he pitched six shutout innings and struck out 12 batters in a 7-0 GreenJackets win. He allowed two hits: a single by Chris Jackson in the first inning and a single by Craig Corrado in the sixth.
His big year in the South Atlantic League put Bumgarner on the fast track, and on September 8, 2009 — just over a year after he beat the Legends for the second time — Bumgarner made his major league debut with the Giants.
Today, at age 25, he has a major league career mark of 67-49 and has been among the best in history in the postseason, where he had a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings that was broken this year in the division series against Washington. Bumgarner has pitched in three World Series for the Giants (2010, 2012, 2014) and has a record of 4-0 with an ERA of 0.29. He threw a four-hit shutout Sunday night in game five.
No doubt he’s collected his share of mementos along the way. But if he owns a souvenir of his first professional win, he acquired it in Lexington.