He is the only player on the Red Sox with two championship rings, which he earned with the Toronto Blue Jays. Mike Timlin never forgot the feeling, but getting back to the World Series during stints with Seattle, Baltimore, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and the Red Sox has been a long, hard road.
Timlin, who pitched in all three Division Series games against the Angels, didn't feel like a champion in the seventh inning yesterday, when he threw an 0-1 fastball on the outside corner to AL MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero, who sent the pitch into the right-field bullpen for a grand slam that erased a 6-2 Sox lead.
Timlin, who had walked Darin Erstad with the bases loaded prior to Guerrero's blast, was replaced by Alan Embree to finish off the inning. Timlin sat on the bench with a look of disgust, but teammates soon began coming over to lift his spirits. One of them was David Ortiz, who patted Timlin on the head and said, "Don't worry, we're going to pick you up."
"I threw a not-so-great pitch to a really great hitter," said Timlin. "It put us a little bit out of the game, but it didn't take us all the way out. I'd done pretty well against him in the past, so I guess it was his turn to beat me."
It wasn't just Ortiz's walkoff, series-winning, two-run homer in the 10th that picked up Timlin. It was also some sensational defense and a gutsy relief effort by Keith Foulke, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth by striking out Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus.
After that, Timlin sensed the Red Sox would not fail. He had seen this scene before, when someone does something dramatic to turn what would have been a dark moment for Red Sox Nation into a shining one.
"I was very down. I was very down for a long time," Timlin said. "I don't like to let my teammates down like that, and I let my teammates down. That's not my job. My job is to keep these guys in the game and help lift them up as much as I can. I let them down and that wears on me."
The veteran righthander watched Embree get Anderson to ground to second to end the top of the seventh, and Derek Lowe and Foulke combined to blank the Angels for the final 2 2/3 innings.
"That was a great performance by Keith," Timlin said. "I know more than anyone how difficult a lineup this is. For Keith to do what he did gave the entire team a lift. That's clutch pitching. That's the kind of pitching that gets the whole team going. It just put the momentum right back to us."
Timlin was trying to let his mistake go. As the team's No. 1 setup man, it was hard. He spotted his wife in the locker room and gave her a kiss. As he smiled, the burden seemed to wane and his focus turned to the impending AL Championship Series.
Whom would he like to face?
"I don't care about facing the Yankees. I don't care. The only thing I care about is facing the last National League team," Timlin said.