Pirates pitcher Kingham almost perfect in major league debut

Nick Kingham of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in his major league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on April 29, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh's Nick Kingham made a spectacular Major League Baseball debut on Sunday, flirting with perfection in a one-hit gem as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0.

Kingham, drafted eight years ago out of high school, saw his arrival in the majors delayed by Tommy John elbow ligament surgery in 2015. He worked his way back in 2016, and played in the minor leagues last year before finally getting the call.

When he finally arrived on a big-league mound, he didn't disappoint.

Kingham carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, retiring the first 20 batters he faced in an expansion-era record for a pitcher making his debut.

Paul DeJong belted a two-out single to left field in the seventh to break up Kingham's no-hit bid.

He finished with nine strikeouts -- throwing 72 of his 98 pitches for strikes as he displayed a wicked slider.

"I was nervous, yeah, no doubt," said Kingham, who joined Johnny Cueto in 2008 as the only pitchers in a century with one hit allowed, at least nine strikeouts and no walks in their debuts.

"But it's good to be nervous," he said. "That means I care. That just made my intentions a little bit more heightened -- not more serious, but just handled everything a little more carefully."

Nick Kingham of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in his major league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on April 29, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania