MILWAUKEE -- As much as Reds reliever Mike Lincoln tried to downplay it, his victory in Friday's game vs. the Brewers had significance. "What did I throw, nine pitches?" Lincoln said. Yep. It was nine pitches -- and more than four years in the making.
It was Lincoln's first win since April 29, 2004, when he beat the Phillies as a Cardinals reliever. He pitched once more that season and missed all of the next three seasons with a right elbow injury that required two Tommy John ligament replacement surgeries and a long, long road of rehabilitation. "I got hurt in Houston before that," Lincoln said. "I think I threw three games before I just shut it down. It's been a long time." The Reds signed Lincoln to a Minor League deal and invited him to Spring Training as a non-roster player. He beat the odds and made the team out of camp. On Friday, Lincoln pitched a perfect bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied at 5. The Reds scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth on a wild pitch and won, 6-5. And Lincoln finally had that elusive 'W' next to his name. "In my situation from the bullpen, all I'm doing is trying to keep the team in the game," Lincoln said. "Wins are kind of a bonus. It's not something that's a legitimate reliever statistic." Yet these are certainly legit bullpen numbers: Through Friday, Lincoln retired 91 percent of the first batters he'd faced (30-of-33). Of his 27 inherited runners, eight scored. He is 1-2 with a 4.01 ERA in 33 games, but his ERA would be much lower if not for two consecutive bad outings in May. "I try to go out there and minimize damage," Lincoln said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.