MIKE TIMLIN – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 24

(CP PHOTO/Hans Deryk)

(CP PHOTO/Hans Deryk)

OCTOBER 24, 1992 – World Series Game 6

To explain why this entry in the Unsung Post Season Hero series is so special to me, I need to flash back to my front yard in the early 1980s. As a 10 or 11 year old, I would play out a scenario while throwing a whiffle ball.

In a potential clinching game of the World Series, my team is in extra innings and on the road. We have the lead but the home team is rallying. Out of pitchers, the manager had no choice to go to an unknown young pitcher named Sully to come out and clinch it. With the winning run at the plate and the crowd going crazy, I strikeout the last batter and clinch the World Series.

Everyone mobs the little known pitcher who was the unlikely pitcher who clinched it all.

The memory of that play acting was brought to light about 10 years later with Mike Timlin.

The Blue Jays and the Braves squared off in a thrilling World Series in 1992. The two teams split the first two games in Atlanta before the Blue Jays took a pair of one run games and established a 3-1 lead with 1991 World Series hero Jack Morris taking the mound for Game 5. The Braves beat Morris and sent the series back to the South.

Game 6 was a classic game. The hero of Game 3, Candy Maldonado, homered in the 4th to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. The game turned into a bullpen game as a galaxy of pitching stars threw for Toronto. David Cone, Todd Stottlemyre, David Wells and Duane Ward held the lead.

In the 9th, the Blue Jays handed the ball to star closer Tom Henke who looked to clinch the series and give Canada their first World Series title. In the bullpen, Mark Eichhorn and Mike Timlin, two middle relievers further down the depth chart, figured out how they would celebrate the final pitch.

But the Braves, like they did against the Pirates in the NLCS, rallied. With 2 outs and 2 strikes on Otis Nixon, the Blue Jays were a pitch from the title. Otis Nixon singled home the tying run and suddenly the Blue Jays found themselves in extra innings and had already burned through their best relievers.

In the 10th, Toronto manager Cito Gaston turned to game 4 starter Jimmy Key, who kept the Braves off of the board. In the 11th with 2 outs, Dave Winfield redeemed his previous post season failures with a 2 out, 2 run double and put the Blue Jays back on top.

Key came out to clinch the World Series but got in trouble early. He allowed a lead off single and the next batter reached on an error. The never say die Braves had the winning run at the plate.

Key got a pair of outs but let up a run in the process. Now it was a one run lead and clearly a call to the bullpen was needed. But with their best relievers already used, Gaston turned to Mike Timlin.

The 26 year old Texan had played in the post season the year before but let up a go ahead homer to Minnesota’s Mike Pagliarulo. He had been reduced to a mop up role in the World Series.

Now Timlin found himself in the game. As I watched the game from my dorm room at NYU, I started going crazy. Timlin was enacting my scenario. The Blue Jays had run out of their better known pitchers. Timlin was relatively anonymous. Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was going bananas.
Otis Nixon, who had tied the game in the 9th was at the plate. The tying run, in the form of pinch runner John Smoltz was at third. It was Timlin’s game to save.
On the first pitch, the speedy Nixon dropped a bunt. A perfectly placed bunt with tie the game and put Nixon on as the potential winning run.
Timlin pounced on the ball and threw to first baseman Joe Carter. It was a close play but Timlin got him. My scenario was played to perfection. The unlikely Mike Timlin saved the game and the Blue Jays were World Champions.
But there was a problem in the celebration. The team poured out and mobbed… Joe Carter.
Mike Timlin was on the outside looking in for the scrum. He celebrated to be sure, but he wasn’t the focus on the celebration. Even the photos of the final out focused on Carter jumping up and down and not Timlin. (And to think, it would not even be Carter’s most famous jump at the conclusion of the World Series as a year later his homer would make the Jays back to back champs.)
I always felt for Timlin, or maybe I felt badly for myself. The perfect ending to my scenario was to have the team mob ME. And I felt a connection to Timlin and wanted his reality to match my fantasy.
In the end, Timlin won 4 rings all together. He was part of the 1992 and 1993 Blue Jays and the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox. As a Sox fan, I was thrilled when he joined my team. I had been rooting for him for years.
It was the great final out that should be Mike Timlin’s calling card of greatness and glory. That’s why I declare him the Unsung Post Season Hero of October 24.

JOEY CORA – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 8



OCTOBER 8, 1995– Division Series Game 5

The Mariners and the Yankees locked antlers in a heart stopping 5 Game Division Series. The final image of that series is one of the most famous baseball moments of the decade and career defining for one certain Hall of Famer (Ken Griffey Jr) and another probable Hall of Famer (Edgar Martinez.)

Lost in the memory of that hit was Joey Cora, who set up the drama with a risky play and scored on the series ending double.

Fans who did not turn their backs on baseball after the 1994 World Series was cancelled by the strike were treated to a dramatic opening round.

The playoffs had officially expanded in 1994 but they were called off. So 1995 saw the first annual Division Series. Bizarrely, a Division Series was played in 1981 as a result of the season split in two by the strike, but now it was going to be a regular event.

Two of the series were sweeps. The Indians made quick work of the Red Sox and the Reds dispatched Los Angeles in 3. The Rockies put up a fight against the eventual champion Braves but eventually lost in 4.

The fourth match up was one of the greatest post seasons in baseball history. The Yankees, who incredibly had not seen a post season since 1981 split season and were denied a Division Title when 1994 was cut short, stampeded into the playoffs with a dynamic September, buoyed by the mid season trade of David Cone. Beloved captain Don Mattingly finally would play in the post season.

The Mariners had never been a contender since their first season in 1977. On August 2nd, they were a sub .500 team, 14 games behind the California Angels and playing in an empty Kingdome in front of a handful of indifferent fans.

Led by Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and a fresh off the DL Ken Griffey Jr, the Mariners played .643 ball the rest of the way while the Angels played .393 ball. The two teams played a one game playoff for the West which Randy Johnson won with a complete game 9-1.

Without Johnson available to start the first two games, the Yankees beat Seattle and took a 2-0 lead. The second one was a 15 inning thriller with a Jim Leyritz walk off. The Big Unit won Game 3 and the Yankee bullpen collapsed in Game 4, forcing a winner take all finale in Game 5.

In the bottom of the third with no score, Joey Cora faced David Cone.

Cora was hardly the biggest name on either roster, but the former Padres and White Sox second baseman fit in perfectly as a spark plug for the Seattle sluggers. He enjoyed a 24 game hitting streak over the course of the season. He got on base, scoring twice, in the Game 4 comeback victory. Now he was asked to spark the offense in the finale.

He did so not with his speed or guile but with power. He homered to right field, giving Seattle an early 1-0 lead.

The game went back and forth. Paul O’Neill homered. Jay Buhner drove in a run. Mattingly doubled home 2. Cora flew out to lead off the 8th with the Mariners down 4-2, Cone dealing and Seattle running out of outs.

Then Griffey hit his 5th homer of the series and Doug Strange walked with the bases loaded to tie the game.

Both teams threatened in the 9th, which included a Cora sacrifice bunt. Both teams brought their game 3 starters out of the bullpen. 1993 Cy Young winner Jack McDowell stuffed out the Mariners rally. Eventually 1995 Cy Young winner (and Hall of Famer) Randy Johnson extinguished the Yankees fire.

In the 11th, Randy Velarde singled home Pat Kelly and the Yankees had the lead. But remembering how closer John Wetteland was clobbered the night before, Yankees manager Buck Showalter decided to bring out McDowell again for the bottom of the 11th.

With the season on the line and Griffey and Martinez both putting up on real numbers behind him, Cora had to get on in any way possible.

With the count 2 balls and one strike, Cora put down a drag bunt. Don Mattingly, one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball, picked it up and dove to make a tag. Cora eluded the tag and touched first.

Showalter and Mattingly argued that Cora went out of the baseline but umpire Jim Evans disagreed and called him safe. (Replays showed it was close but he stayed in the lane.)

Now Griffey and Martinez could come up as the winning run. Showalter stuck with McDowell who allowed a single to Griffey that sent Cora, the tying run, to third with nobody out.

When Edgar Martinez doubled to left, Griffey famously made the dash to home, scoring and ending the Yankees hopes. Everyone remembers Griffey. Nobody remembers Cora came in to score on that play to tie the game.

Cora finished the series with a .316 average and a .935 OPS. Normally that would make a batter an MVP candidate. Compared to Ken Griffey’s 5 homers and Martinez’s .571 average and 1.667 OPS, his numbers were dwarfed.

The Indians would beat the Mariners in 6 innings to win the ALCS. When the series ended, Cora famously wept in the dugout, comforted by rookie shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

The man cared big time and came through big time. The clutch play of Joey Cora makes him the Unsung Post Season Hero of October 8

The Most Recent No Hitter For Each Franchise (Updated for May 3, 2011)

Last year I wrote a post where I had each most recent no hit game for each franchise. And with Francisco Liriano’s gem tonight, that old post is now obsolete.

So dutifully, here is the updated list of each team’s most recent no hitter.


Francisco Liriano – May 3, 2011
1-0 over Chicago White Sox

Roy Halladay – October 6, 2010
4-0 over Cincinnati. (Playoff Game)
Matt Garza – July 26th, 2010
5-0 over Detroit.

Edwin Jackson – June 25, 2010
1-0 over Tampa Bay

Dallas Braden – May 9, 2010
4-0 over Tampa Bay. (Perfect Game.)

Ubaldo Jimenez – April 17, 2010
4-0 over Atlanta.

Mark Buehrle – July 23, 2009
5-0 over Tampa Bay. (Perfect Game.)

Jonathan Sanchez – July 10, 2009.
8-0 over San Diego.

Carlos Zambrano – September 14, 2008.
5-0 over Houston.

Jon Lester – May 19, 2008.
7-0 over Kansas City.

Justin Verlander – June 12, 2007.
4-0 over Milwaukee.

Anibal Sanchez – September 6, 2006.
2-0 over Arizona.

Roy Oswalt, Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner –
June 11, 2003.
8-0 over New York Yankees.

Bud Smith – September 3, 2001
4-0 over San Diego.

David Cone – July 18, 1999.
6-0 over Montreal. (Perfect Game.)

Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon – July 12, 1997.
3-0 over Houston. (10 innings.)

Hideo Nomo – September 17, 1996.
9-0 over Colorado.

Kenny Rogers – July 28, 1994.
4-0 over California. (Perfect Game.)

Kent Mercker – April 8, 1994.
6-0 over Los Angeles.

Chris Bosio – April 22, 1993.
2-0 over Boston.

Bret Saberhagen – August 26, 1991
7-0 over Chicago White Sox.

Dennis Martinez – July 28, 1991.
2-0 over Los Angeles. (Perfect Game.)

Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson – July 13, 1991.
2-0 over Oakland.

Dave Steib – September 2, 1990.
3-0 over Cleveland.

Mark Langston and Mike Witt – April 11, 1990.
1-0 over Seattle.

Tom Browning – September 16, 1988.
1-0 over Los Angeles. (Perfect Game.)

Juan Nieves – April 15, 1987.
7-0 over Baltimore.

Len Barker – May 15, 1981.
3-0 over Toronto. (Perfect Game.)

Bobby Burke – August 8, 1931
5-0 over Boston.

The Padres and Mets are still on notice. As are the Nationals who haven’t had one in Washington.

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