Focused and in control, Yohan Pino didn't realize he was throwing a no-hitter until the final out.
The Twins prospect pitched the second no-hitter in team history and the first in nearly eight years Saturday as the Fort Myers Miracle blanked the St. Lucie Mets, 7-0, in the first game of a doubleheader.
Pino said he was unaware he was no-hitting the Mets until he glanced at the zero-filled scoreboard with two outs in the seventh inning.
"I wasn't nervous. I was just hoping they wouldn't get a hit," Pino said through translator and teammate Juan Portes. "Now I'm so happy, happy for myself, my team and the fans."
Pino (3-3), the reigning Florida State League Pitcher of the Week, walked four and struck out three to win his second straight decision. He retired the Mets in order five times, issuing two walks in the first and fifth innings.
The 23-year-old right-hander breezed through the seventh to complete the gem, getting Dan Murphy to fly to center field before catching Josh Petersen looking for his sixth strikeout. Ryan Coultas went down swinging, two innings after he walked to become the third Met to reach base.
"It felt good, very good," Pino said. "I could sense the players had an idea [about the no-hitter], but I just kept on pitching the same every inning. It never crossed my mind until the last out."
While Pino kept his focus, nearly everyone else in Hammond Stadium was aware of the feat. Portes, however, who smacked a two-run homer, said he was equally unaware of the no-hitter.
"I had no idea he was throwing it until the last inning," Portes admitted. "After the game was done, the announcer said it was the first no-hitter in Hammond Stadium, so yeah, it was exciting, but it was pretty shocking also."
Pino said he had good command of his slider and worked his fastball around the plate.
"I'm just trying to hit my spots," he said, "just working hard, like always."
The Miracle's only other no-hitter was a nine-inning gem by Brad Thomas on July 12, 1999 against the Charlotte Rangers.
This was the second no-hitter this season in the Florida State League, coming nearly two months after Vero Beach Devil Rays right-hander Wade Davis no-hit the Jupiter Hammerheads in the second game of a May 4 twinbill.
Ironically, Pino and Davis faced each other last Aug. 31 in the Midwest League, with Davis tossing a no-hitter for the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays and losing, 1-0, to Pino and the Beloit Snappers.
Pino admitted the unusual win over Davis came to mind while he celebrated his own no-hitter.
"I thought about it a little bit," he said. "The guys always talk about it. But today will always be on my mind the rest of the season."
Portes said he had a good view from center field and actually anticipated many of the pitches Pino threw.
"Wherever our catcher set up, wherever he put the mitt, that's where he hit," Portes said of Pino's control. "He hit his spots. I would say in my mind, 'Throw him a fastball, a curve,' and everything that was in my mind, he was doing it, hitting his spots and overpowering guys."
The Mets mounted their lone threat in the first, when Sean Henry drew a leadoff walk and stole second with one out. Nick Evans walked one out later, but Pino retired Murphy on a fly ball to center field.
Petersen, Coultas and Rogelio Del Campo each struck out twice against Pino, who faced four batters over the minimum and induced 11 flyouts and three groundouts.
"He pitched well, it was exciting and he deserved it," Portes said.
The Miracle (5-4) staked Pino to a quick lead as Brian Dinkelman hit a one-out solo homer in the opening inning and rehabbing Major Leaguer Rondell White and Dwayne White delivered RBI doubles.
Portes stroked his two-run shot in the second to extend Fort Myers' lead to 5-0.
St. Lucie starter Deolis Guerra (1-4) was knocked around for five runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts over two frames. Blake Eager surrendered two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts over four innings for the Mets (3-6).
Pino has not allowed an earned run in his last three starts, a span of 22 innings. He's given up only 10 hits and four walks with 20 strikeouts during that stretch, lowering his ERA from 2.38 on June 13 to 1.55.
A native of Venezuela, Pino was dominant last season, going 14-2 with a 1.91 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 94 innings at Beloit. The 14 wins tied him for third in Class A.
In 2005, he was 9-2 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts for the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League. The previous season, he was named Dominican Summer League Most Outstanding Pitcher.