"It's not normal," Torii Hunter said of Carmona's go-to pitch. "He's not even human. It was so scary, I thought I was hung over."
Throwing sinkers and almost nothing but sinkers, Carmona pitched a four-hitter for his first career shutout and beat Johan Santana for the second time in less than a month as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Twins 2-0 to finish off a three-game sweep.
Carmona (5-1) dominated from start to finish with a 121-pitch performance that was still being discussed across the clubhouse dining tables as the Twins dug into their postgame buffet.
"That dude is filthy," Hunter said. "We've been struggling, but even if we had been playing good, we wouldn't have beaten him. If you've never played the game, listen to me, I'm a hitter. Right-handers have no chance unless they get lucky and get a hit on a broken bat."
Santana (4-4), a two-time AL Cy Young Award winner, gave up consecutive home runs to Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko in a three-pitch span in the seventh inning as the Twins lost for the seventh time in eight games.
The Indians improved to 14-3 at home and are 5-0 this season against one of their AL Central rivals.
Carmona, bumped from Cleveland's rotation earlier this season, is 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last five starts and hasn't given up a run in 15 innings. It's a remarkable turnaround for the right-hander who was optioned to the minors but brought back when Jake Westbrook went on the disabled list.
Last season, the Indians gave Carmona a tryout as their closer, a disastrous experiment that was scrapped when he blew his first three saves.
"Sometimes things happen for a reason," said Martinez, Cleveland's catcher, who estimated Carmona threw more than 100 sinkers. "He's living the other side of it now."
The Twins have lost eight of their last 10. Needless to say, this wasn't the best time to run into Carmona.
"He ate us up," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He didn't give us much of a chance."
Santana blanked the Indians for the first six innings before Martinez touched him for his fifth homer. Two pitches later, Garko also connected for his fifth, giving Cleveland back-to-back homers for the first time this season and handing Carmona all the runs he would need.
The shots sent a shock wave through Cleveland's dugout.
"Rare," Indians manager Eric Wedge said of the drives off Santana. "That's not something you'd expect."
On April 24, Carmona stopped his 11-game losing streak by defeating Santana in the Metrodome, where he is 43-16. The 23-year-old Carmona won his next start five days later, but he became the odd-man out on Cleveland's starting staff when Cliff Lee came off the DL.
Only Westbrook's abdominal pull rescued Carmona from pitching at Triple-A Buffalo, and his ascension as a dependable starter could eventually lead to the Indians making a move with struggling left-hander Jeremy Sowers, who'll take an 0-3 record into a start Saturday against Cincinnati.
"I couldn't believe it when they sent him down," Hunter said. "Everyone in the league was saying, "Did you see Carmona got sent down?"'
The Indians only future plan for Carmona is to keep handing him the ball every time his turn comes up.
"My confidence is real high right now," Carmona said through an interpreter. "I was a little out of control last year and I learned a lot."
Santana allowed two runs and just four hits in seven innings, the 100th straight start in which he has pitched at least five innings. He walked one, struck out a season-high 11 but for one of the few times in recent memory, he wasn't the best pitcher on the mound.
"It's always fun to pitch in a game like that," he said. "Fans know they're going to see a good game. You have to give credit to Carmona. His ball was moving like crazy."
- Carmona is the first pitcher to beat Santana twice in the same season since Chicago's Jon Garland in 2004.
- Santana's 100-start streak of going at least five innings is the fourth longest such run in the past 50 years. Only Curt Schilling (147), David Cone (145) and Bob Gibson (112) have been more consistent.
- The Indians are a 14-3 at home, with two of those wins coming at Miller Park in Milwaukee.