Kingham looks good in loss

To look at Nick Kingham’s win-loss record of 1-5, some might think he’s having a bad season.

It couldn’t be further from the truth, and instead, Kingham’s time with the Curve is proof positive that winning and losing is far from the most important thing in the minor leagues.

“You obviously want to win,” Kingham said. “Numbers are nice, and people back home are looking at it. But overall, just development and me going out and doing what I need to do is what’s important.”

Kingham did just that Wednesday morning, tossing seven solid innings and getting one step closer to being ready for Triple-A. Unfortunately for the Pirates’ top Double-A pitching prospect, he suffered yet another loss – his fifth straight – as the Curve fell to Akron, 6-2, before 4,447 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

“He was very good,” Altoona manager Carlos Garcia said of his pitcher.

Kingham allowed three runs – only one earned – on seven hits in seven innings, striking out two with two walks. It’s the first time this season he has lasted seven innings, and he did so efficiently on only 88 pitches.

Kingham lowered his ERA to 3.06, and most of the rest of his Curve numbers indicate a solid season, even if that 1-5 record makes it appear otherwise. He won his first start April 6 but hasn’t had a victory since then, plus he has suffered the loss in his last three starts.

Does the record bother him all that much?

“Deep down maybe, but overall it’s not really one of my concerns,” Kingham said. “I just do my job, and I think things will take care of themselves.”

That’s how most pitchers think in a game where they can throw the ball great and still lose because of numerous other factors. And when it’s in the minor leagues, a pitcher’s record really has become one of the least important metrics an organization looks at when trying to evaluate a prospect.

Kingham carried a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning Wednesday, then Akron tied the game on a one-out error by first baseman Matt Curry when the ball rolled under his glove and let a run score. Kingham gave up an RBI double later in the inning as the RubberDucks took the lead for good, but both runs that inning were unearned.

Akron added an insurance run in the seventh after a leadoff double, and Kingham departed with his team trailing, 3-1.

“He could have worked seven scoreless innings,” Garcia said, noting that might have happened if Kingham had gotten a couple breaks.

The manager then said he feels Kingham is “close to moving to the next level.” That doesn’t mean it’s imminent – it could be another month or two before Kingham goes up to Triple-A – but Garcia’s point was that he’s seeing the pitcher develop the way he needs to do in order to be promoted.

“He went out there with the attitude to establish his fastball early and stick with it,” Garcia said.

“I feel like I’m in a good position right now,” Kingham said when asked if he thinks he’s close to being ready for Triple-A. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m cool with whatever. I just try to keep getting better and keep polishing my delivery.”

The Curve cut the deficit to 3-2 in the seventh as Willy Garcia doubled and later scored on a wild pitch. But they couldn’t get any closer, and Akron broke it open on a three-run homer by Tyler Naquin in the ninth off reliever Matt Benedict.

Joe Colon (3-2) won for the RubberDucks, who improved to 12-4 against the Curve this season. Tyler Sturdevant pitched the final two innings for his fifth save.

Game recap

Key player: CF Tyler Naquin went 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs for Akron.

Key play: Naquin’s three-run homer in the ninth sealed the win.

Key stat: Despite a 3.06 ERA, RHP Nick Kingham has lost five straight decisions to fall to 1-5.

How they scored

Bottom 5th: Emsley-Pai walked, scored on Hanson single (1-0).

Top 6th: Toole singled, scored on Curry error (1-1); Lindor walked, scored on Myles double (1-2).

Top 7th: Rodriguez doubled, scored on Naquin single (1-3).

Bottom 7th: Garcia doubled, scored on Ramirez wild pitch (2-3).

Top 9th: Rodriguez singled, Valerio singled, both scored on Naquin three-run homer (2-6).