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Indians do the unthinkable, blow late seven-run lead

The Indians did all they could to win a ballgame. They also did all they could to lose it. You would think a 7-0 lead going to the bottom of the eighth is pretty darn safe. Well, think again. The Tribe blew that lead Friday night and lost 8-7 in the first game of their series against the Reds. The Indians put on a hitting clinic early and put up five runs in the first. Todd Hollandsworth and Ronnie Belliard each had two RBIs and a home run, Grady Sizemore added two doubles, and Paul Byrd pitched six innings of shutout ball to help give the Indians the large lead.

Unfortunately for the Tribe, they had to turn it over to their horrific bullpen. Rafael Betancourt gave up four runs, including two homers, and failed to record an out in the eighth. The Indians tacked on a run in the ninth but it wasn’t enough insurance. With the Tribe holding on to a three-run lead, Bob Wickman walked two straight batters to load the bases for Adam Dunn, who ended the game with a line drive grand slam.

“I had nothing tonight,” Wickman said. “It was ridiculous and embarrassing. I can’t throw a strike.”

I can’t even make this stuff up.

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Tribe trades Perez

Indians’ first baseman Eduardo Perez was traded Friday to the Seattle Mariners for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera, who hit .236 this season with AAA Tacoma, will be assigned to Buffalo and first baseman Ryan Garko will join the Indians. With the log jam the Indians have at first base, Perez became expendable. Does this signal the beginning of more trades for the Indians now that the season is a lost cause?

Cabrera is only 20 years old and is known for his above average speed and defense. Last season, he was rated as the Mariners’ 6th best prospect and was voted the best defensive second baseman in his league. The Indians clearly are thin at second base and shortstop when it comes to minor league talent so Cabrera may be able to fill that void. I wonder if this trade was made simply to dump Perez and give Garko a chance up at the big league level or if Shapiro really does see a future with this Cabrera kid. Remember, Ronnie Belliard’s contract is up after this season.

Play in the mud…for charity

The 21st annual Mud & Grass Volleyball and Mud Dodgeball Tournament to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be held Saturday, July 22 beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, Ohio. More than 4,500 players, spectators and volunteers are expected to participate in the event. Children and adults come from miles around to play or just watch, enjoy good food and music and help kids with neuromuscular diseases.

For more information on this immensely popular event, including team fees and sign-up instructions, click here.

Shannon should mesh well with LeBron

Cavaliers’ first-round pick Shannon Brown and LeBron James aren’t exactly strangers to one another. They met and became quick buddies back when they were both high school stars and have played on the same court quite a bit. Akron Beacon Journal sportswriter Brian Windhorst explains.

Brown’s relationship with James started in 2002 when both took part in the USA Basketball’s “Development Festival” in Colorado Springs. It expanded a year later in 2003 when they bonded while starring in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Cleveland and at the Jordan Capital Classic in Washington, D.C.

Brown, a star from Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., nearly upstaged James at the McDonald’s Slam Dunk Contest, finishing second behind him. Then the next night, he scored 23 points and had three assists opposite James, who was named the game’s MVP.

A few weeks later in Washington, Brown and James shared the MVP honors of the Capital Classic. Behind Brown’s 27 points, his team beat James’ team despite James’ 34 points. After the game, James joked that he might skip going to the NBA so he could go to Michigan State to play with Brown.

So it’s safe to say LeBron approves of the pick. These two, with Larry Hughes, have a chance to develop something really special for years to come. Brown probably won’t start right away but will eventually work his way into the rotation. He’s got the demeanor and work ethic you look for in a player and, with his athleticism, should be a terrific compliment to both LeBron and Larry. Brown and James knowing each other from their high school days can only help their relationship and chemistry on the court.

Ninth a nightmare

The Indians had won two games in a row and were on the verge of a sweep until a ninth inning meltdown lost it for the Tribe Wednesday night. Given the Indians’ track record the last month, a sweep was probably too much to ask for from this club. The Tribe were down 3-1 going into the eighth but managed to score three to take the lead. Bob Wickman entered in the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead and that’s when the ugliness began for the Tribe. So Taguchi hit a pop-up to catcher Kelly Shoppach, who dropped the ball in fair territory, leaving Taguchi at second on the error. After an RBI double that tied the game, Jhonny Peralta’s poor throw to first on a grounder helped score the winning run for the Cardinals. Jake Westbrook pitched a solid ballgame, giving up three runs in six innings of work. Grady Sizemore provided some punch at the top of the order and had four of the Tribe’s 10 hits on the night.

The Tribe were riding a modest win streak going into the final game of the series and actually had some momentum for the first time in quite awhile. But, as they have done all season long, found a way to lose and failed to close it out thanks to the disappointing ninth inning.

“It was a total defensive collapse,” Wedge said. “We gave it back to them a lot easier than we took it from them. It was an embarrassing ending to what potentially could have been a real big game for us.”

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