Betancourt forced to make adjustments

Betancourt forced to make adjustments

SEATTLE -- It's safe to say Rafael Betancourt didn't see this type of season coming.

Following a 2007 season in which he recorded a 1.47 ERA in 68 appearances, his statistics have been strikingly less gaudy this year. In 42 appearances, he has a 6.00 ERA and has given up eight homers.

Betancourt has battled some back issues and tweaked his mechanical delivery a bit, but he's still looking for the consistent command and effectiveness that he had last season. Some of those 2007 vibes came back last Saturday, when he went two shutout innings against the Rays.

"The velocity has been better the last couple times -- that's good to see," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's shown signs with his command, his secondary stuff's better."

The change in command has included Betancourt not relying completely on his fastball, which has historically been both his predominant and dominant pitch.

"He's not a one-pitch pitcher anymore. He's going to have to use all of his pitches. He's going to have to utilize both sides of the plate," Wedge said. "I think he's very capable of doing that. As tough as it's been for him this year, in the end it should make him that much stronger. ... In the end, it should make him a better pitcher, because he's going to have more weapons to get hitters out with."

Betancourt should be on his toes on Saturday, as starter Jeremy Sowers has averaged less than five innings per start.

Pitching matchup
CLE: LHP Jeremy Sowers (0-5, 7.51 ERA)
Sowers set a career high with eight strikeouts in his last outing, but it didn't make up for the control problems he had in a no-decision against the Rays. The lefty couldn't pick up his first win because he simply couldn't throw a strike when the count was full, posting up a career-worst seven walks and driving up his pitch count in the four-inning effort. If anything might be able to rectify Sowers' disappointing season, it might be a date with the Mariners. Sowers picked up one of his two career complete-game shutouts in 2006 against Seattle and threw five scoreless innings at Safeco Field in a spot start near the end of last season.

SEA: RHP Miguel Batista (4-10, 6.22 ERA)
Batista is back in rotation and will look to give the Mariners more innings than in his last start against Oakland on July 9, when he left the game after two innings with a right groin strain. He will be filling in for Saturday's scheduled starter Jarrod Washburn, who came down with the flu. Prior to the Oakland health issues, Batista had looked solid out of the bullpen with increased velocity. But he's had a rough go of it on the mound this year even when health isn't a factor, and his ERA at Safeco Field is 6.99.

Tidbits
Jhonny Peralta extended his hitting streak to eight games on Friday by going 1-for-3. He's hitting .375 with four homers and 12 RBIs during that stretch. ... Starter Aaron Laffey pitched 3 2/3 innings Friday, the shortest outing of his Major League career. It was the second time this season that he's allowed eight runs. ... Grady Sizemore went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to six games. ... The Indians have lost 10 straight road games.

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Up next
• Sunday: Indians (Cliff Lee, 12-2, 2.31) at Mariners (Carlos Silva, 4-11, 5.46), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Monday: Indians (Paul Byrd, 3-10, 5.47) at Angels (Ervin Santana, 11-3, 3.34), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Indians (Matt Ginter, 1-0, 0.00) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 8-8, 4.03), 10:05 p.m. ET

Jesse Baumgartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.