CLEVELAND (AP) -- Grady Sizemore's star isn't merely rising, but
hurtling across the sky at warp speed.
The perpetually hustling Sizemore, who in his second full season
has emerged as one of baseball's rising stars, leads the league
with 75 extra-base hits, two more than Boston's David Ortiz.
Sizemore also leads the league in runs (107) and doubles (46),
is among the leaders in several other offensive categories. If the
center fielder's uniform isn't dirty, then the game probably hasn't
"If he's not the best all-around player in the league, he's
near the top," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He's just a
great all-around player who works as hard as anyone we have. One
thing people don't see is his mental toughness. And just the way he
plays the game, and the effect it has on his teammates.
"I'll take him over anybody."
Ryan Garko added a pair of RBI doubles off A.J. Burnett (6-6) as
the Indians, who have failed to live up to expectations following a
93-win season in 2005, improved to a major league-best 14-5 since
Reed Johnson had three hits for the Blue Jays.
Byrd (9-6) didn't make it out of the first inning of his
previous start, getting banged around for nine runs -- three earned
-- and eight hits at Kansas City on Wednesday. He escaped with a
no-decision when the Indians, trailing 10-1 after the first,
rallied to win 15-13.
This time, the right-hander stayed around long enough to get a
cheap win, allowing three earned runs and 10 hits in five-plus
Fernando Cabrera replaced Byrd in the sixth and got out of a
bases-loaded jam and worked a scoreless seventh. Rafael Betancourt
pitched the eighth and Tom Mastny hit a batter with two outs in the
ninth before getting his fourth save in four tries since being
handed the closer's job.
"Cabrera picked me up," Byrd said. "I didn't deserve the win.
He should have gotten it."
Sizemore's 20th homer -- he hit 22 last year -- put the Indians
ahead 6-4 in the sixth. The 24-year-old, who plays all out all the
time, drilled a 2-1 pitch from Burnett over the wall in center.
Six of Sizemore's last seven hits have gone for extra bases, and
his hard-nosed style has made an impression on everyone in
"I can't say enough about Grady," said Byrd. "Whether he goes
0-for-5 or 5-for-5, he plays the same way. He plays hard. He dives,
risks injury. He signed a big contract at the beginning of this
season and I don't think it's a secret that some guys, after they
get a big contract, get a little too comfortable. Not Grady.
"The way he plays the game, you'd think he was in the last year
of his contract, not the first. Everyone on our team should learn
If not for the Indians being out of contention, Sizemore, who is
also a favorite among Cleveland's female fans, would be a part of
any MVP conversation.
"He's and up-and-coming star," said Blue Jays manager John
Gibbons. "I've seen enough of him in the last year to know that."
Sizemore took the praise in stride.
"I'm just trying to improve all the time," Sizemore said.
"There are a lot of things I could do better."
Three doubles, two intentional walks and a sacrifice fly helped
the Indians snap a 2-2 tie and score three runs in the fifth.
Sizemore led off with his second double and scored when Jason
Michaels thumped a two-base hit off the left-field wall. The Blue
Jays put Travis Hafner on, and one out later, Garko's RBI double
made it 4-2.
Gibbons then chose to walk Shin Soo-Choo but Jhonny Peralta
followed with a sac fly, scoring Hafner.
The Blue Jays trimmed it to 5-4 while chasing Byrd in the sixth.
Vernon Wells doubled, Troy Glaus singled and Lyle Overbay's base
hit made it 5-3. Gregg Zaun's single loaded the bases and knocked
Cabrera came on and got Bengie Molina to hit into a double play,
scoring Glaus to pull the Blue Jays within one.
Sizemore needs one triple to become the first player in
Cleveland history to have two straight seasons of double digits in
doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases. ... Indians RHP Fausto
Carmona, sent to Triple-A Buffalo to work on his mechanics
following his colossal flop as a closer, will start for the Bisons
on Tuesday. Carmona is scheduled to make two starts in the minors
before rejoining Cleveland as a starter. He'll likely replace
rookie LHP Jeremy Sowers in the rotation. Sowers has already
pitched 170 innings and the Indians don't want to risk him breaking
down. ... Overbay has an AL leading 20 doubles since the All-Star