Baseball Digest Birthdays: Mike Timlin

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

March 10th, 1966 is the birthday of a man who is the only player in baseball history to win a World Series Championship with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox. More impressive, this player won two titles with each ballclub.

Though born and raised in Midland, Texas, Mike Timlin’s greatest success was achieved well north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Drafted in the 5th round of the 1987 Amateur Draft, his career as a relief pitcher began in his second season as a member of the Myrtle Beach Blue Jays of the South Atlantic League. By 1990 Timlin had a sub 2.00 ERA, prompting a call up to the big leagues for the 1991 season. He made his major league debut against the Boston Red Sox on April 8, 1991. He recorded his first career strikeout(against Tom Brunansky) two days later. Timlin pitched more than 100 innings over 63 appearances that year, and his moderate success in the 1991 ALCS gave a glimpse into the future of Timlin. He logged some time in the minors during the 1992 season, but provided much needed support in September with seven scoreless appearances spanning 7.1 innings. He saved the best for last, keeping the Atlanta Braves scoreless in the World Series and being involved in the bunt play that ended the series and gave the Blue Jays their first title.

The following year, Timlin again provided much needed relief in the Toronto bullpen down the stretch. In September he allowed just one earned run in eleven appearances. Much like the previous year, Timlin saved the best for last, maintaining his perfect World Series ERA with 2.1 scoreless innings as the Blue Jays repeated as champions, this time defeating the Philadelphia Phillies.

As the Blue Jays faded from the group of elite teams in the league over the next few years, Timlin solidified himself as a great arm in the ‘pen. By 1996, Timlin became the everyday closer and notched 31 saves. At the trade deadline in July of 1997, Timlin began his career as a journeyman when the Blue Jays traded him to the Seattle Mariners, who were charging towards the postseason. He helped the M’s to the ALDS, but struggled mightily in his two thirds of an inning pitched, getting hammered for four runs, en route to a series loss to the Baltimore Orioles. As the every day closer for the Seattle Mariners in 1998, Timlin recorded 19 saves.

In an October 2006 issue of Baseball Digest, Amalie Benjamin wrote about Mike Timlin’s impact on the young pitchers of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. Click here to check it out!

During the 1998-1999 off season, Timlin signed with the Baltimore Orioles for the 1998 season, and recorded 27 saves in his first season with his third team. By the trade deadline in 2000, he was once again on his way to another team, this time the St. Louis Cardinals. With the Cards, he returned to his role as a middle inning set up man and thrived. Though he struggled in the 2000 postseason, he rebounded to become a reliable arm for the Cardinals through the 2002 season. For the third time in his career, Timlin was again traded at the July deadline to the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching well down the stretch. Following the season, Timlin signed on with the Boston Red Sox and began the journey that would land the native Texan on the team that ended an 86 year championship drought.

For six years between 2003 and 2008, Mike Timlin provided a veteran presence on the mound and in the clubhouse for the band of ‘Idiots’ that changed history for baseball in Boston. In eight games during the 2003 postseason, Timlin did not allow a single run. Though he struggled in the 2004 postseason, he did not allow a run during pivotal late innings in Game 5 and Game 7 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. He allowed a few runs in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, but the offense of the Red Sox overcame all obstacles to sweep the Cards four games to none.

Timlin’s solid work out of the ‘pen continued during 2005, appearing in a league(and career) best 81 games. After a down year in 2006, he regained some of his dominance in 2007 and helped the team to another World Series berth, this time against the Colorado Rockies. Along the way he held the Cleveland Indians scoreless in the ALCS. Earning his second World Series ring with Boston signified the beginning of the end for Timlin in Boston as well as at the major league level. His 2008 season was his final year, and his 5.66 ERA indicated that the 42 year old had reached the end of the line. Though he attempted a comeback in 2009 with the Colorado Rockies, his career was over. At his retirement, he had ranked first all time for relief appearances by a right handed pitcher with 1,054 and ranks seventh all time with 1,058 overall appearances by a pitcher. Not too shabby for a well traveled player who’s career began with the 1991 Toronto Blue Jays 18 years earlier.

Also Born Today:

Aaron Bates(b. 1984) is the only current player in spring training camp with the Boston Red Sox that was born on March 10. In five minor league seasons, he has slugged 70 home runs. On July 11, 2009 he notched his first career hit against Roman Colon of the Kansas City Royals.

Rob Stanifer(b.1972) was a member of the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins before twice being acquired by the Boston Red Sox. The right handed pitcher had a career ERA of 5.43 and his last strikeout victim in the big leagues was Sal Fasano of the Oakland Athletics.

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