Kingham takes step back as Pirates drop another

Long balls doom Pirates rookie

Josh Rowntree
July 26, 2018 - 11:44 pm
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Nick Kingham (49) wipes his brow while he listens to pitching coach Ray Searage (middle) as catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) looks on against the New York Mets

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Like the rest of his team, Thursday night just was not Nick Kingham’s night. 

Kingham’s control totally escaped him, as the Pirates rookie allowed six runs over three innings in Pittsburgh’s 12-6 loss to the Mets at PNC Park. 

“Inconsistent execution across the board, pretty much with all pitches,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, abruptly summarizing a forgettable performance from his starter. 

The Pirates committed three errors and the team’s pitchers combined to walk nine batters. Kingham issued four of them. He admitted to not having a feel for his command from the opening pitch. 

“It makes everything even more difficult,” he said of his inability to find his fastball. “All the other pitches don’t really come to happen. You don’t have a feel for it, it kind of snowballs into one bad outing.

“Pitching is all feel. It’s the key to pitching. It’s a feel spot, a feel position. You’ve got to feel what pitches are coming out and have the release point and the finesse of each pitch.”

Kingham looked comfortable through the first two batters, forcing a pair of groundouts. But a double by Michael Conforto was followed by a Wilmer Flores bomb to put the Mets up early. 

“I tried to start out good,” Kingham added. “I got the first two guys out and then something just really didn’t click. I gave up the double, the home run to Flores and it just all went downhill from there. I tried to pull it back but just nothing really worked.”

Hurdle got the bullpen moving in the third, but stuck with Kingham against the top of New York’s order to being the fourth inning. 

“I’ve seen him regain it,” Hurdle said. “We had Glasnow up in the third inning based on what we’d seen and the way the pitch count was running and the overall execution of pitches.

“There just wasn’t anything good happening for Nick tonight as far as getting consistent execution. Unfortunately, nobody likes it. He likes it probably the least of anybody. Once in a while those games bite you in the big leagues, you’ll have them.”

Left-handed batters feasted on Kingham, with a home run, three doubles and a pair of walks. 

“Just not swing at balls,” on what the lefties did so well. “I got behind early on, so that put me in a hole. I was I behind in the count and had to really figure out what to throw. All around I think they just did exactly what they were supposed to do at the plate.”

Kingham has a streak of three consecutive starts in which he lasted as least six innings snapped. He allowed as many runs in this outing as he had his previous three combined. 

“It’s baseball,” he said. “You win some, you lose some. It’s up and down. Just try to minimize the lows and you’re never as high as you think you are, so just try to stay even-keeled.”

Hear more from Kingham below.