Kyle Kaminska was all business on Friday. And that's exactly what the Pirates expected.
The sinkerballing right-hander was surrounded by familiar faces when he took the mound in Bradenton in his first start in more than a year. Only those faces were under the caps of the Jupiter Hammerheads, his old team.
"I know a lot of those guys, I knew everybody in that lineup. I played with all those guys, they're all awesome dudes," Kaminska said. "But it's a business and I gotta go out and get those guys out whether they know me or not."
Kaminska put his friendships aside, holding Jupiter hitless for six innings for the win as Class A Advanced Bradenton shut down the Hammerheads, 4-1, at McKechnie Field.
Acquired from the Marlins on July 31 with Gaby Sanchez for Gorkys Hernandez and a 2013 Draft pick, Kaminska (1-0) struck out five in his first outing since being transitioned to a starter.
"The organization felt like I should be a starter, so I went with it," said Kaminska, whose last start came for Jupiter on July 23, 2011. "I felt like it was the right decision as well, I had some success with that. Working with [pitching coach Mike] Steele and the whole staff, they did a great job. I feel like I made some good adjustments and went out there and did what I wanted to do."
The gem -- Kaminska threw only 68 pitches before taking a seat -- is probably his best in a season that, by his own admission, has had its ups and downs. Miami's 25th-round pick in 2007 split the first half between Triple-A New Orleans and Double-A Jacksonville. But with a 5.11 ERA in 31 Southern League games, the Marlins included him in the deadline deal with Pittsburgh. He made three relief appearances with Double-A Altoona, but the Bucs wanted to move him back into a starting role and sent him to Bradenton to make the transition.
"I felt pretty good. I wasn't really sure how I'd feel after the fourth, but overall, I felt pretty good, considering," he said. "The last inning, I was a little more tired than I was earlier, but that's part of getting stretched out. You gotta go out and do it."
Kaminska was perfect in five of his six innings after issuing a one-out walk to rehabbing Marlins outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, who led the Majors in stolen bases for most of this season. Bonifacio, testing his own limits, ended up getting thrown out stealing to end the inning.
"I got ahead of him there, and the last two pitches of that at-bat I wanted to go back down and away. And I know he's fast, but that's my strength, getting ground balls and getting sinkers," Kaminska explained. "I walked him, and I've watched his games -- I wanted to make sure he didn't get a good read on me. It worked out."
Kaminska shut down his former team until exiting. Quinton Miller came on and allowed a run and a hit over the next two innings before Doug Salinas pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
Handing over the ball with a no-hitter in progress wasn't too difficult for Kaminska, though.
"I'm confident in these guys here, they've shown they have a good bullpen here," he said. "They have good arms in their system, they're all here for a reason."
As for his first start in a year, it couldn't have gone better. Relying on his sinker, he induced eight ground balls and did so on fewer than 70 pitches.
"That was the key, just attacking with that sinker, and I got a lot of ground balls. That's what I'm gonna do. And you want to be efficient," said Kaminska, who threw six hitless frames for Class A Greensboro on May 20, 2008.
"I didn't really notice [the no-hitter] until the fifth inning. I just wanted to go out and do the same thing I'd been doing."
As for this season, joining a new organization was a welcome move for Kaminska.
"I wasn't expecting anything to happen and then one night they called me a couple of hours before the deadline. It was a pretty cool feeling," he said. "It was definitely -- I told someone else, it was pretty shell-shocking. But I'm glad it happened. I've got to work and continue the road to the big legaues. That's what I'd like to do."
For now, the hitless outing is a good way to finish off what he called "a roller-coaster of a year."
"To finally work on something and have success with it, it's definitely huge," Kaminska said. "I have three pretty good pitches, threw them all for strikes and was able to get deep into the game. So that's a good sign."