MINNEAPOLIS - The 2010 season was a banner one for Carl Pavano.
The big righthander for the Minnesota Twins won 17 games and had career highs with seven complete games and two shutouts.
Only Pavano's 2004 season with the Florida Marlins was more successful, when he won 18 games, posted a 3.00 ERA and aced the Florida Marlins' staff.
So what was the secret to Pavano's revived success at the age of 34?
It may have been the mustache that grew above his lip early last season.
Once the mustache sprouted, Pavano's season took off. He was just a .500 pitcher until mid-June.
On June 15, Pavano went seven innings as the Twins topped Colorado in interleague play.
His next outing, he tossed complete game, besting eventual NL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies. A week later, he earned a shutout against the New York Mets and former Twins ace Johan Santana.
Stache fever caught fire.
Fans started wearing fake mustaches to Target Field and it even got its own Facebook page with 433 friends. Make that 434.
It was the hit of the 2010 Twins season. Pavano looked like one of the Super Mario Bros., and pitched like Superman.
But Pavano entered spring training with a different facial hair look - a goatee. Instead of being hip like Magnum PI, he looked more like Spock's evil twin from the parallel Star Trek universe.
And through one outing in 2011, he pitched like he had just received a Vulcan nerve pinch.
Pavano took the opening-day loss to Toronto, going just four innings and giving up seven earned runs for a bloated 15.75 ERA.
But at Friday's Twins home opener, Pavano looked more like the mustachioed stud of last season - at least on the mound.
Despite still sporting the goatee, he went eight strong innings and gave up just one run and four hits as the Twins took their home opener 2-1 over Oakland.
But even a poor outing on Friday wouldn't have tempted him to shave off the bottom half of his goatee and re-introduce the stache for the 2011 season.
"I'm not that superstitious," Pavano said after Friday's win. "I'm superstitious about my routine and what I do on the field."
Maybe there really is no secret of stache success.
Chris Bieri is the sports editor for the Minot Daily News. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.