Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Nick Kingham was just looking to prove he could cut it in the majors during his big-league debut. It’s fair to say he did a lot more than that during his first major-league start.
Kingham retired the first 20 batters he faced. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s the longest a pitcher has gone without putting a man on base since at least 1961.
Elias would only confirm Kingham set the 1961-present record. I can't find a longer one (most batters retired to begin pitcher's first MLB game) before that, but if anyone does please @ me.
As Keith Law’s tweet says, it’s possible Kingham’s record goes back further. But the Elias Sports Bureau could only confirm 1961 to the present. They are saying Kingham set the record in the expansion era.
As you might expect, Kingham was fantastic in his major-league debut. He gave up just one hit over seven innings. The 26-year-old struck out nine batters and did not allow a walk. After 6 2/3 perfect innings, Paul DeJong singled to break up Kingham’s perfect game and no-hitter.
The Pirates would go on to win the contest 5-0. Kingham’s excellent start was recognized by his teammates with a mustard shower.
Who is Nick Kingham? Casual baseball fans might not know him, but those who pay attention to top prospect lists might be familiar with the name. Kingham appeared on nearly ever major top prospect list in either 2014 or 2015.
He wasn’t considered an elite prospect, but a solid contributor. Kingham topped out as the 64th best prospect in baseball prior to the 2014 season, according to Baseball America.
Injuries prevented him from appearing on those lists in recent years. Kingham underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015. He missed most of that season and much of 2016 while recovering. Even in 2017, his season debut was pushed back due to an ankle injury. Kingham got off to a hot start in four games at Triple-A in 2018, leading to his call-up.
Following his excellent debut, you can bet Kingham will get another opportunity to build on his impressive performance. He’s already staying with the club as it travels to Washington, D.C. for the next series.
Expecting a repeat performance would be foolish, but if Kingham can prove to be a useful part of the rotation going forward, the Pirates will be pretty satisfied with that.
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Views of each MLB stadium
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: A general view of Marlins Park during the 88th MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by LG Patterson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 27: A general view during the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 27, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Apr 6, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of a United States flag on the field during the playing of the national anthem before the 2015 MLB opening day game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 20: A general view of Fenway Park during the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 20, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 20: A general view of Wrigley Field during the game between the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays on August 20, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 28: A view of the field and the skyline of the city of Philadelphia during a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on May 28, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Reds won 8-4. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: General view of the ball park from the upper level as the Colorado Rockies take on the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Rockies defeated the Nationals 10-6. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 15: A general view of SunTrust Park during the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 15, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 08: Overall view of the MLB game between the Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 8, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Arizona Diamondbacks won 11-2. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 29: A general view of Tropicana Field during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The game was moved to Tropicana Field because of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 11: A general view from the upper deck during the first inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians on June 11, 2017, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. Cleveland defeated Chicago 4-2. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 4: A general view of the stadium as the Colorado Rockies take on the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field on July 4, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 18: General view of the ball park from the upper level as the Washington Nationals play a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 18, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pirates defeated the Nationals 10-4. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: A general view of the American flag as the national anthem is performed before game three of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- JULY 18: A general view of Target Field during a game between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees on July 18, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Angels 5-4. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 25: A general view of Miller Park before the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds on April 25, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - August 23: A general view of Citi Field during the Arizona Diamondbacks Vs New York Mets regular season MLB game at Citi Field on August 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 11: General view of the ball park from the upper level as the St. Louis Cardinals play a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium on June 11, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Phillies 6-5. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: General view of the ballpark from the upper level as the Chicago White Sox play against the Baltimore Orioles during a game at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 15, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Orioles 5-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 08: General view of the ball park from the upper level during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds defeated the Cardinals 5-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 6: In this general view the Los Angeles Dodgers play the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning of a baseball gameat PETCO Park on May 6, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: A general view of Yankee Stadium during the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees on Monday, April 10, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 08: A general view of ceremonies prior to the home opener between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on April 8, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 19: A general view of Comerica Park during the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on August 19, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. The Dodgers defeated the Tigers 3-0. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 18: A general view as Whit Merrifield #15 of the Kansas City Royals connects during the 3rd inning of the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 18, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD- MAY 24: A general view of Oriole Park at Camden Yards between the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles on May 24, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Twins defeated the Orioles 4-3. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 15: A general view of Angel Stadium of Anaheim during the second inning of a game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 15, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JULY 1: A general view of the Rogers Centre as the 48th Highlanders Pipe and Drum Band peforms during the playing of the American national anthem on Canada Day before the start of the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre on July 1, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 14: A general view of play between the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 14, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: A general view of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 23, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)