Déjà vu all over again for Indy's Kingham

Bucs No. 12 prospect flirts with perfection during scoreless outing

Nick Kingham has a 1.67 ERA and is holding opponents to a .191 average in seven Triple-A starts. (Donn Parris/MiLB.com)

By Michael Avallone / MiLB.com | June 14, 2018 10:49 PM

The surreal atmosphere was enough to give anyone pause. For Nick Kingham, it was just another day at the office ... with a touch of déjà vu for good measure.

Mimicking his Major League debut last month, Pittsburgh's No. 12 prospect retired the first 19 batters of the game and finished by allowing two hits over a season-high scoreless eight innings as Triple-A Indianapolis defeated Toledo, 7-3, at Victory Field.

Video: Indianapolis' Kingham collects his sixth K

In the seventh inning, Tigers No. 12 prospect Dawel Lugo reached on a tapper back to Kingham, who was also charged with an error on the play after throwing wildly to first base. The 26-year-old was perfect through 6 2/3 innings in his big league debut on April 29 until Paul DeJong singled to left to spoil his chance at history.

"There were a lot of similarities between the two," Kingham said. "I had things rolling for me all night and command of all four of my pitches. I was aggressive and attacking the zone, hoping to use their aggression against them to get some balls in play early. I was able to do that and keep them off balance."

Gameday box score

Thursday night in Indianapolis set up to be a carbon copy for Kingham (3-1), who was making his first start in Triple-A since being optioned on June 10. The right-hander struck out the first two batters of the game while retiring the first 18 Mud Hens on 67 pitches. He got Tigers 11th-ranked prospect Mike Gerber to fly out to begin the seventh and quickly got ahead, 0-2, on Lugo. But the Toledo second baseman worked the count even before tapping a ball to Kingham. The official scorer ruled it a single and an error on Kingham, simultaneously ending his perfect game and no-hit bids. 

"I initially thought it was an error, but I didn't notice they ruled it a hit until I got back into the dugout," the Las Vegas native said. "But seeing it and looking back, it was a hit through and through. It was a tough play to make. Obviously, I would have liked for it to have been ruled an error, but he deserved credit for it."

Video: Toledo's Lugo breaks up the no-hitter

Kingham surrendered a clean single to Edwin Espinal in the eighth before retiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia on his season-high 101st and final pitch. He did not issue any walks and struck out six to lower his ERA with the Indians to 1.67 in seven starts.

"I was over [giving up a hit] by the time I started the eighth, he said. "But [Espinal] getting that clean single is what upset me. Now it went from allowing just one hit to two. I was definitely trying to keep things right where they were, but when he got on, I was like 'Dang, now they got a good one.'"

The Pirates fourth-round pick in the 2010 Draft performed well during his near-three week stay in the Majors, going 2-3 with a 3.82 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings across six starts. 

MiLB include

"The whole experience was incredible," Kingham said. "The guys welcomed me in the clubhouse with open arms and treated me like a big leaguer. They said I deserved to be there, which felt great. I'd say the biggest thing I took from my time there is that you can't take a pitch off. Everything you throw must be with full conviction behind it. Before I made my debut, [Pirates starter] Jameson Taillon told me that no matter where you're pitching, pitch like you're a big leaguer. That's stuck with me and I've tried to do that. 

"I've got that taste and I'm going to do everything I can to get back up there."

Pirates No. 8 prospect Kevin Kramer homered, doubled and drove in three runs and seventh-ranked Kevin Newman added three hits and a stolen base. Max Moroff and Ryan Lavarnway also went deep for the Indians.

Toledo starter A.J. Ladwig (5-3) was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on nine hits and a walk in four innings. Gerber and Lugo each collected RBI doubles for the Mud Hens in the ninth.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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