Yohan Pino produced one of his best starts of the year in a crucial playoff game Friday, and Charles Nagy wasn't surprised at all.
"Yohan's been around the block a few times, he just took it as another start," said Nagy, the Triple-A Columbus Clippers' pitching coach and three-time American League All-Star. "It just all came together for him tonight."
Pino dominated in his postseason debut, allowing one hit over seven innings as Columbus held off the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees 1-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 International League semifinals.
The 26-year-old right-hander allowed a leadoff single in the first inning to Reid Gorecki, then walked Kevin Russo, but was untouchable thereafter. He picked off Gorecki and retired the next 19 batters en route to his first win since Aug. 15.
Nagy, a 14-year Major League veteran, said Pino was confident in throwing all his pitches for strikes.
"The biggest thing, he was throwing his breaking ball and off-speed pitches for strikes, mixing in his fastball," Nagy added. "He threw his breaking balls really well. He just warmed up and he was fine, he wasn't nervous or anything. He's an aggressive competitor."
Pino, originally signed by the Twins in 2004, went 10-9 with a 5.75 ERA in 26 starts this season, his second in the Indians organization. He'd given up 20 earned runs over his last four starts entering the playoffs, but somehow flipped a switch when the postseason came.
"He's been good. He's had good starts throughout the year, he has a lot of confidence," Nagy said. "He went out and was able to get out of the first and settled in nicely."
The Yankees got no relief when Pino finally took a seat. Zach Putnam struck out the side in the eighth before Vinnie Pestano did the same in the ninth.
"It was impressive for all three," Nagy said. "Zach Putnam and Vinnie Pestano were just bringing it with movement on the ball. Both have really good sliders. They were aggressive, attacked the hitters and struck out the side."
Pino fanned six of the 22 batters he faced. Combined, the Clippers faced just one batter over the minimum in the pivotal game.
"Anytime you go up a game in a best-of-5 series, you shorten it. We're in their place, we're on the road," Nagy said. "They were hoping to come in and win two of three, so right now, it's a big win for us, we've grabbed the momentum. We have a day game tomorrow, so hopefully it carries over."
Columbus got on the board after chasing Yankees starter Kei Igawa in the eighth. Luke Carlin, who hit a walk-off homer in Game 1, lined a one-out double off reliever Eric Wordekemper and scored on Jose Constanza's two-out single up the middle.
The Clippers threatened in the seventh, but two men were thrown out at the plate on consecutive singles. Columbus totaled six hits.
Nagy, who won 129 games with the Indians from 1990-2002, said he was impressed with Igawa's performance.
"He was the same as Pino. He kept the ball down, threw his change for strikes, moved the ball in and out, kept us off-balance," he said. "He left a couple up in the seventh, but his defense picked him up. All in all, he threw the ball well tonight."
The Yankees again were without their top hitter, catcher Jesus Montero, who likely will miss the rest of the playoffs. He reportedly underwent minor ankle surgery to treat an infection.
"It's minor, but I think he's going to be out for the playoffs," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the Journal News.
Game 4 is Saturday afternoon at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where Hector Noesi (1-1, 4.82 ERA) faces Columbus' Paolo Espino (3-3, 5.62 ERA).
"Anytime you have a chance, you want to win and go home," Nagy said. "You want to come out and go play the game and see what happens."
In other International League action:
Louisville Bats 2, Durham Bulls 1
Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh and 6-foot-5 right-hander Matt Klinker held the Bulls to a run on six hits over 5 1/3 innings as the Bats took a 2-1 edge in the best-of-5 series. Durham's Alex Cobb took a no-hitter into the sixth and ended up allowing two runs on three hits with 10 strikeouts over 6 2/2 frames. Gameday box score