ST. LOUIS -- Adam Wainwright is a 6-foot-7, bearded right-handed pitcher with a distinct Southern twang who has won two World Series titles, received one Silver Slugger Award and earned three All-Star selections while playing for the Cardinals for 17 seasons.
Madison Bumgarner is a 6-foot-4, bearded left-handed pitcher with a distinct Southern twang who has won three World Series titles, received two Silver Slugger Awards and earned four All-Star selections while playing for the Giants and D-backs over 14 seasons.
So, it would be easy to see how a casual baseball fan might get the two talented pitchers confused for one another. In the case of Wainwright, 40, he’s been mistaken for Bumgarner, 32, several times in recent years -- something that makes the two of them laugh when they talk and text from time to time.
“Usually when I’m texting him, it’s when somebody thought I was him and I have to remind him that I looked like this first since I’m [eight] years older than him,” Wainwright said with a laugh. “There are some pictures out there where he favors me a lot. I don’t favor him, he favors me -- because I’m older.”
One incident in particular had Wainwright pulling up pictures from the internet to see just how closely he resembles Bumgarner, someone he considers a friend because of their mutual love of horses, their Southern backgrounds and their shared success as veteran pitchers.
“In the Atlanta airport a few years back, I walked in the bathroom and a guy goes, 'Madison Bumgarner!'" Wainwright recalled. “I said, 'I’m not Madison,' and he would not believe me that I wasn’t Madison Bumgarner. That was about the third time that year that it happened. But [Bumgarner] is a good-looking guy, though.”
Wainwright, a native of Brunswick, Ga., and Bumgarner, a native of Hickory, N.C., faced off Friday night as the series between the D-backs and Cardinals continued at Busch Stadium. Bumgarner tossed five innings of one-run ball to earn the win in Arizona's 6-2 victory, while Wainwright allowed three runs over six innings in defeat.
Prior to that, the last time they went head-to-head as opposing pitchers was Game 5 of the 2014 National League Championship Series, a game won by Bumgarner's Giants on a walk-off homer in the ninth inning. That night, Bumgarner allowed three runs in eight innings, while Wainwright gave up two runs in seven innings.
Facing off against Bumgarner is just the kind of matchup that Wainwright covets, he said.
“I always like pitching against the best pitchers,” said Wainwright, who had a showdown against Kansas City’s Zack Greinke rained out earlier in the season. “That’s always some of the best fun. But I also like texting with [Bumgarner] throughout the year. He’s gotten to be a friend of mine, and we like communicating every now and then through text about horses or whatnot.”