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Updated: September 10th, 2010 8:57pm
Carmona stymies Twins; bullpen lefties back this weekend?

Carmona stymies Twins; bullpen lefties back this weekend?

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Twins lost 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night in a game that lasted just one hour and 57 minutes.

And Fausto Carmona was flat-out nasty.

The Cleveland right-hander picked a fine time to regain command of that sinker, hurling a complete-game, three-hit shutout and retiring the last 16 batters he faced. This was the eighth time the Twins have been shutout this season.

At his best in 2007, Carmona -- who induced 11 groundball outs, nine fly ball outs and seven punch outs on Friday night -- was the elite sinkerball pitcher in baseball, inducing an AL-leading 64% groundballs. He also walked just 2.55 batters per nine innings that season while posting a 3.06 ERA and 3.94 FIP.

Well, after throwaway campaigns in 2008 and 2009, Carmona has regained a lot of that 2007 form. Yes, he went through a rough patch in August, but Carmona is back to inducing grounders -- 55% grounders this season, which ranks seventh in the majors -- and after a dominating performance on Friday he has shaved his ERA to 3.86. His FIP heading into Friday was a respectable 4.11.

For the Twins, there's no shame losing to a guy who is essentially rolling baseballs off the end of a table at 92 miles per hour.

As for Twins starter Carl Pavano, who pitched eight more solid innings, allowing only two earned runs, he now has three losses this season in games where he has thrown shortened complete games (eight innings, on the road) -- a 3-0 loss in Detroit on April 29, a 4-3 loss at Texas on August 24, and the 2-0 loss in Cleveland on Friday.

Lefties on the mend?

The Twins may be getting some major left-handed bullpen reinforcements by the end of the weekend.

Jose Mijares, who has been out for nearly a month following surgery to repair a torn meniscus, threw a simulated game on Friday night and could be activated on Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.

Brian Fuentes (back), who has faced just one batter since the Twins acquired him on August 27, received peace of mind from a clear MRI on Wednesday, and he is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday. If all goes well, according to the Star Tribune, Fuentes could be available on Sunday.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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