Betancourt now end-of-game go-to guy

Betancourt now ninth-inning go-to guy

CLEVELAND -- Rafael Betancourt claims his approach will remain the same. Only the inning listed on the scoreboard, he said, will be different.

It's not that simple, of course. Anybody who's held a closer's job, as Betancourt now does in light of the injured Joe Borowski's absence, will tell you that the ninth inning is a different animal.

Betancourt just isn't looking to treat it that way.

"I've pitched in every spot in the bullpen," Betancourt said. "Now I'm going to finish the game. That's the only difference I see at this point. I pitched in the eighth inning last year. I learned those situations -- every time I pitched with guys on base and the game on the line. Now I have to pitch like I always do, be aggressive and get the last three outs of the game."

Betancourt is 12-for-29 in his career in save situations, but those numbers are actually deceiving for a setup man. In ninth-inning save situations -- a much more telling stat -- Betancourt is 1-1 and 12-for-15 in the saves department.

"It doesn't guarantee anything," Indians manager Eric Wedge said, "but he's closed a couple games for us the last few years."

One game Betancourt wasn't scheduled to close was Tuesday's series finale against the Red Sox. Having worked the previous two days, Betancourt was unavailable for his first day on the job. Right-hander Jensen Lewis and left-hander Rafael Perez were set to handle the closing duties, if necessary, depending on the matchups.

Masa Kobayashi, who had 227 saves in nine seasons in the Japanese Pacific League, and Jorge Julio, who has 99 career saves in the bigs, were not considered for the job. Kobayashi is still getting settled in the Majors, and Julio has been working long relief.

"I'm not ready to go from zero to 60 with those guys right now," Wedge said.

Betancourt, who has a 5.14 ERA in seven appearances this season, worked the ninth in Double-A ball and in the Venezuelan Winter League. But with Borowski out for at least two to four weeks with a right triceps strain, this will be his first significant stretch as a big league closer.

"The adrenaline in that situation is different," Betancourt said. "Being aggressive is very important for me. That's the way I always like to pitch, and I don't think I'm going to change anything in the way I pitch."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.