Notes: Betancourt deserves recognition

Notes: Betancourt deserves recognition

CLEVELAND -- A dozen or so American League pitchers will be heading to San Francisco for next month's All-Star Game.

And manager Eric Wedge thinks Rafael Betancourt, the Tribe's setup man, should be one of them.

That's how much he thinks of the man who has unfailingly come through for the Indians in tight situations.

"He's as deserving to play in that game as anyone," Wedge said.

Wait, a non-closer in the Midsummer Classic. Far-fetched, sure, particularly considering the year that closer Joe Borowski is having. But then you look at Betancourt's numbers, and they're staggering.

The 32-year-old right-hander has a 1.31 ERA, has struck out 32 over 34 1/3 innings and the opposition is hitting just .185 against him. What's more, his hold in Thursday's win was his 16th of the season, second only to Anaheim's Scot Shields. And of his 19 inherited runners this year, just one has scored.

"When you talk about an All-Star, you're talking about a guy who is consistent," Wedge said. "The one thing you want from a guy in the bullpen is knowing what you're going to get. Raffy epitomizes that."

Of course, it hasn't always been that way. Inconsistency and injury has plagued Betancourt throughout his six-year career in the Majors.

So in a year in which Wedge said that "it's all come together for him," this All-Star talk has taken Betancourt by surprise.

"Everybody keeps talking about that," Betancourt said with a laugh. "I can't believe [that]."

Not that he's thinking about it. At least he's trying not to.

"It's more important what my teammates and coaching staff think about me," Betancourt said. "Now if you make the All-Star team, it would be an honor. If not, I'm fine. It's not something I keep in my mind."

Rouse struggling: If utility man Mike Rouse has designs on staying in Cleveland, some might figure he needs to pick it up.

His .118 average, after all, is the league's lowest among players with more than 45 at-bats.

No matter, though, Wedge said. Versatility and a steady glove is all the club asks for. And, according to Wedge, Rouse has delivered.

"[Rouse's role] is probably one of the toughest spots to do much offensively," Wedge said. "I know he wants to do better and we want him to do better. But the No. 1 priority has to be defense and how he handles the role. And he's done a good job there, so anything you get offensively is a bonus."

Here's the question ... Tribe ace C.C. Sabathia's 122 1/3 innings pitched are the most in the American League. Can you name the last Indians pitcher to finish a year perched atop that category?

Byrd daze: Forgive Paul Byrd for being beside himself late Thursday. He was in foreign territory.

"Wedge's not taking me out with two outs in the sixth, what's going on?" Byrd thought.

The Tribe starter, you see, had not pitched through seven innings since May 20. No matter his pitch count or how he had been pitching, his recent starts always seemed to find him losing it in the sixth or seventh.

"I don't know if that's one of the signs of the end of the age or what," said Byrd, who won for the first time since May 30. "For me, it was a great day because of that."

Solar supremacy: The Indians, on the vanguard of efforts to fight global warming, became the first American League club to go solar Friday.

The team officially unveiled Jacobs Field's solar electric pavilion in a pregame ceremony on the south-facing upper deck concourse.

The pavilion, aimed to reduce the park's carbon-dioxide output, features 42 solar panels that will produce enough electricity to power all of the park's 400 television sets.

"Everybody who comes to an Indians game will now know that solar power is not a technology of the future," said Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher. "It's here today and it's here to stay."

Tribe tidbits: The Indians' 23 comeback wins equal the most in baseball. By comparison, the club only had 27 come-from-behind victories in 2007. ... Ben Francisco made the first start of his big-league career on Friday, giving the hot-hitting Jason Michaels a day off in left field. ... David Dellucci underwent successful surgery to remove a torn tendon from his left hamstring on Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic. ... The Indians announced on Friday that their Saturday, Aug. 11 game against the Yankees is now sold out. Limited seats still remain for the weekend's Friday and Sunday contests.

On this date: In 2000, Tribe starter Bartolo Colon begins his start by walking the first four batters, becoming just the fourth pitcher in Major League history to do so. The Tribe would eventually fall to Kansas City, 6-2.

And the answer is: The last Tribe pitcher to lead the league in innings pitched was Early Wynn in 1954, when he tossed 271 of them.

Down on the farm: Triple-A Buffalo's Ryan Mulhern homered and drove in three runs and Adam Miller, in his second appearance out of the bullpen after returning from a finger injury, did not allow a hit over two scoreless innings in the Bisons' 6-2 victory at Scranton. ... Double-A Akron starter Scott Lewis tossed five innings of one-run ball as the Aeros topped Binghamton, 5-4. Cliff Politte, sidelined for the past two weeks by a setback in his recovery from rotator cuff surgery, returned to give up two runs in just 2/3 of an inning. ... Beau Mills, the Tribe's recently signed top Draft pick, went 2-for-5 with a grand slam in his Class A Lake County debut in leading the Captains past Hagerstown, 10-4. ... Class A Kinston catcher Max Ramirez, who will represent the organization in next month's Futures Game, hit his 11th homer in the Indians' 6-3 victory over Fredericksburg.

On deck: The Tribe continues its wraparound four-game set with Tampa Bay on Saturday night at 7:05 ET at The Jake. Sabathia (11-2, 3.24 ERA) will be opposed by Devil Rays left-hander J.P. Howell (1-1, 4.45 ERA).

David Briggs is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.