Kingham moves into Pirates rotation after near-perfect debut

WASHINGTON (AP) Pirates rookie Nick Kingham’s nearly perfect debut has earned him at least one more start in the majors.

Kingham took a perfect game into the seventh inning of his first big league start, retiring the first 20 batters in Pittsburgh’s 5-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.

He left after seven innings, allowing one hit on 98 pitches, in the best debut by a major league starter in more than a half-century.

The Pirates weren’t necessarily planning to keep Kingham in the majors after his spot start. Now he’s slated to pitch again on Friday at Milwaukee.

”We had two different plans drawn up and that was one of the plans we had drawn up,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Monday.

”We felt if he pitched competitively to his skillset and gave us the chance to win the game, we’d like to give him the ball another time. There’s no promises after that.”

Pittsburgh moved left-hander Steven Brault to the bullpen to make room for Kingham. The Pirates have three scheduled days off from May 7-14, which could complicate plans to keep Kingham in the majors beyond his next appearance.

”I brought my whole wardrobe just in case,” said the 26-year-old Kingham, who spent nine seasons in the minors.

Once a top Pirates prospect, Kingham’s path to the majors was interrupted by Tommy John surgery. Now he’s in some sterling company, joining Johnny Cueto in 2008 as the only pitchers in the past 100 years to give up one hit, strike out at least nine and walk none in his debut.

The Elias Sports Bureau said no pitcher in the Expansion Era – since 1961 – had taken a perfect game bid so far in his debut

”It was awesome,” Kingham said. ”I’m thankful and proud that I get to continue on with the guys.”

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