Mathis slugs way back into lineup

Mathis slugs way back into lineup

Mathis slugs way back into lineup
OAKLAND -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia has seen catcher Jeff Mathis go off on hitting streaks before.

"In the [2009] playoffs, that was a great run he was on," Scioscia said, referring to Mathis' 8-for-15 postseason outburst that included a walk-off double against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. "He's had a few stretches like that."

While catching Dan Haren's shutout of the Yankees on Saturday night, Mathis had a perfect night offensively with a two-run homer, double, walk and sacrifice bunt. He was back in the lineup, catching Joel Pineiro, in Monday night's series opener against the A's.

"Obviously, we're looking for a little production back there," Scioscia said. "He gave us a lift with the bat the other night and, hopefully, he will down the stretch. But it's his defense that is valuable to us. Jeff works with everybody well."

His .183 batting average and .277 slugging mark keep his critics chirping, but the Angels' pitchers embraced the athletic, intensely competitive Mathis from the moment he stepped behind the plate -- and that hasn't changed.

"Jeff knows we have his back," Haren said. "We know what he means to us."

The Angels are 43-29 this season with Mathis catching, playing .500 in the rest of their games. In his career, the Angels are 213-154 when Mathis starts -- a .580 winning percentage.

To all those critics who keep asking why Scioscia plays him, that's the short answer. The manager likes to win.