© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/19/09 10:30 PM ET
Mathis delivers biggest hit of career
Known for glove, backstop's bat lifts Halos' ALCS hopes
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Cameras were positioned around his locker, reporters thrust microphones and tape recorders in his face and the questions that followed sounded a bit like back-handed compliments.
And the Angels didn't get it done. Mathis slid in safely at third on Erick Aybar's sac bunt against Mariano Rivera, who made an off-balanced throw to third in an attempt to get Mathis. The throw got past third baseman Alex Rodriguez and scooted toward the camera pit, but left fielder Johnny Damon backed up the play, and Mathis was unable to score. The Angels wound up leaving the bases loaded, but, as Mathis said, they didn't fret. "You can't crumble," Mathis said. "You've got to keep battling." The battle continued into the 11th. And with two out and none on, the Angels found a way to put together the third postseason walk-off win in club history, with Mathis serving as the star. Howard Kendrick singled off Alfredo Aceves, and Mathis came up looking for something to drive. On a 1-0 pitch, he got a hanging slider, and he did the same thing to it he did to the one Hughes had offered an inning earlier. Mathis, who hit just .211 in 84 games this season, crushed the pitch to left-center. And as the ball bounced off the wall and the speedy Kendrick came streaking home, Mathis became an unlikely hero. "Mathis has a lot of heart," teammate Torii Hunter said. "What you do in the season doesn't matter. The postseason is different. Mathis has that bulldog in him." He also had, within the screaming crowd of 44,911 fans at Angel Stadium, two very special people on hand to witness the magic moment. After his teammates mobbed him and his manager hugged him, Mathis pointed to his mother, Bonnie, and his grandmother, Judy Revell, who were in attendance. "They've been with me the whole postseason," Mathis said. "They were able to experience that with us in Boston. For them to be here for this is awesome." Who would have thought that the big, game-deciding hit the Angels had been waiting for all series would come from Mathis? That is, of course, the beauty of postseason baseball. And on Monday, life was beautiful for Mathis and his teammates. "It's the biggest hit of my life," he said. "It's a pretty good feeling.
2-1 ALCS ADVANTAGE
|Year||Team up 2-1||Opponent||Final|
|1993||Blue Jays||White Sox||4-2|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.