Eight years after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Kingham delivered one of the best major-league debuts of all time. He took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Cardinals, before Paul DeJong knocked a single down the third-base line with two outs. Kingham retired 20 straight batters, an expansion-era record for a pitcher in his first game, in the Pirates’ 5-0 win.
Tuesday’s rainout against the Tigers led to a doubleheader Wednesday, which meant the Pirates’ rotation would be overworked, so they promoted Kingham from Triple-A. He’s had a rough go of it leading up to his big-league debut: Originally set to debut back in 2015, he was delayed by Tommy John surgery, and faced a run of poor injury luck in the following years. Kingham worked his way back to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians in 2017.
His offspeed stuff on Sunday seemed undeniable enough to keep around. Kingham worked with an array of breaking pitches, including a buckling 85-mph slider, which he only started throwing last month. He had nine strikeouts and only allowed one baserunner through seven innings.
Kingham experienced the rare combination of having his first major-league game also be a bid for a perfecto, which meant that none of his new teammates wanted to chat with him. From MLB.com:
“Everybody was avoiding me. I was by myself. I’m trying to talk to everybody, and they didn’t want anything to do with me.”
The Pirates revealed that Kingham will stay with the team for its road trip to Washington. Now that the pressure’s off, maybe he can make some friends over the next few days.