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4 for 4: Bad Bullpens, Phillies' Lineup, Webb, Gallardo

1. After the shockingly hideous meltdown of the Braves' bullpen yesterday in Philly, which featured four bases-loaded walks in the seventh inning - turning a 10-3 lead into an eventual 12-11 loss - Braves Manager Bobby Cox summer up the overwhelming sentiment from those on hand: "I've never seen anything like it."

Well, I'm here to tell you: I have. In 1998, while covering the Florida Marlins for The Miami Herald, I witnessed relievers Felix Heredia and Antonio Alfonseca inherit a 9-3 lead (from Livan Hernandez, incidentally) in the seventh inning and turn it into an eventual 10-9 loss to the Giants.

Here's how the gruesome sequence went:

*The lefty Heredia pitching (to two left-handed batters and a switch-hitter): Walk. Walk. Walk. Pitching change.

*The right-hander Alfonseca pitching: Sacrifice fly. Force-out. Walk (loading the bases again). Walk. Grand slam (by Brent Mayne).

That tied the game, and the Giants scored again in the eighth to take the lead.

Admittedly, I never thought I'd see anything like that again. But if anything, the Braves' meltdown was worse. I mean, four bases-loaded walks? Wow, that's hideous.

2. Interesting to note that Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel already made an important change to his lineup in that game yesterday, splitting up the trio of left-handed batters in the heart of his order (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez) by putting Jayson Werth between Howard and Ibanez.

Smart move -- why make it easy for opposing managers to match up with lefties late in games? Wonder if Manuel will keep doing it.

3. Our good pal Ken Rosenthal reports the Diamondbacks pulled out of an agreed-upon-in-principle deal for a contract extension with ace Brandon Webb last year after the team's insurance company red-flagged the condition of Webb's arm.

Perhaps, then, we ought not to be surprised by the news Webb will miss his next start with shoulder stiffness - despite his going almost six years now without a trip to the disabled list.

In any case, I want my pick for NL Cy Young winner back.

4. In fact, if I had it to do over, I might just take the guy in this headline - and not because of the way he hit yesterday.

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 9, 2009; 9:27 AM ET
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Dave - I watched Heathcliff Slocumb turn Roger Clemens's 1996 season with the Red Sox from 15 - 6, 139 ERA+, league leading in Ks, into 10 - 13, "twilight of his career," and inspiration to do 'roids. I will not argue about individual games, but as for a lifetime achievement award, single league, Heathcliff's AL experience has to be up there.

Of course, my last opening day at Fenway was 1998, when Seattle turned to Heathcliff to close, up 7 -2, gave up 3, then Tony Fossas. Mike Timlin, and Paul Spoljaric gave 4 more. Culminating the rally was a Mo Vaughn walk off grand slam. Admittedly, I forgot about every pitcher other than Heathcliff, but remembered the grand slam.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 9, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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