08/21/11 9:05 PM EST
Escalona unavailable after marathon affair
By Nick Kosmider / MLB.com
Betancourt in midst of another dominant run
DENVER -- Lost in the fray of the Rockies' 7-6, 13-inning win over the Dodgers on Saturday was a dominant performance from reliever Rafael Betancourt.The hard-throwing righty followed that up with his second save in Sunday's 5-3 series-clinching victory.
On Saturday, with the game tied in the ninth inning, Betancourt retired the first three hitters he faced with a pair of groundouts and a harmless fly ball.The clutch outing -- his first appearance in seven days -- was just another chapter in a string of dominant second-half performances from Betancourt, who has not allowed an earned run since July 7, a span of 15 innings. During that stretch he has given up just five hits, with 26 strikeouts against one walk. It is a similar stretch to last season, when Betancourt gave up just four earned runs in 23 2/3 innings after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. During that same time period in 2009 -- when he joined the Rockies after seven seasons with the Indians -- he gave up five runs in 21 2/3 innings. "It's a long season, and you're going to go through bad times, good times," Betancourt said. "That happens. That's what I like to do. If I'm struggling, I like to be able to come back and do what I need to do. I see the results from that, because I never give up. I keep working hard." Several weeks ago, with Betancourt struggling, Rockies manager Jim Tracy was experimenting with hard-throwing lefty Rex Brothers in the setup role. "I needed to afford myself the opportunity to massage this guy and get him feeling back to being himself again, and then move him slowly back to that [eighth-inning] area," Tracy said. Betancourt had no problem with the move. "This is teamwork," he said. "They took me out of the [setup] spot because I was struggling, and I understand that. They needed to put someone else in there to get people out. "I have to be able to see what I did wrong, see what I can do to make it better and be able to come back and get my spot." Betancourt still isn't occupying the setup role, but only because he is temporarily filling in as closer until Huston Street returns from the 15-day disabled list. No matter when he has pitched, the veteran right-hander has been striking out hitters at a high rate. He has punched out 10 in his last 7 1/3 innings. "I just try to throw strikes," Betancourt said. "It's one of my goals when the season starts. I have many goals ... but the first goal I want to manage is, I need to throw strikes."
Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.