OAKLAND -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia has seen catcher Jeff Mathis go off on hitting streaks before."In the  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.
Angels have to solve Oakland problem
OAKLAND -- The athletes in green and gold, the Athletics of Oakland, are the difference right now in the American League West race.Take games against the A's out of the equation, and the Rangers would be chasing the Angels, not the other way around. Heading into a critical three-game set with the A's -- all series are critical at this point -- the Angels are 5-8 for the season against their rivals to the north. Texas, meanwhile has beaten up on Oakland, taking 11 of 16. Strip away those games and you get the Angels, at 75-58, leading Texas' 72-59. Inside the division, the Rangers have lapped the Angels. Texas is 30-15 against the AL West, compared to the Angels' 24-24. "We've got to start winning games against these guys," catcher Jeff Mathis said on Monday night before handling Joel Pineiro against A's southpaw Gio Gonzalez. The Angels need to figure out Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, quickly. The A's have taken five of their six meetings this season and 11 of the past 16 overall in the East Bay against manager Mike Scioscia's troupe. "When we played them earlier in the year," Scioscia said, "we weren't hitting and they were pitching very well. Our offense has been much more productive the last five or six weeks. We're the best team we've been all year right now." With nothing to play for besides pride and job security, the A's have won six of their past 10. They are 39-32 at home for the season, compared to 27-48 on the road. Oakland has three games left with Texas, at home, and six with the Angels. Baseball's best road team for consecutive seasons in 2008 and '09, the Angels are 36-35 away from Angel Stadium this season.
Using Weaver on short rest back on agenda
OAKLAND -- When Angels right-hander Jered Weaver goes to the mound on Wednesday in the series finale against the A's, he'll be working on his customary four days' rest.Circumstances and positioning in the American League title chase against Texas could dictate moving the ace up on three days' rest again soon, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He will definitely come back on three days at some point," Scioscia said, adding that Dan Haren and Ervin Santana also will be "under consideration" for working on shorter rest. "I don't think we'd want to do it after a 130-pitch outing," Scioscia said. "Your preference would be as early as possible, but you can do it at the end [of the season], too. We did it with [Kelvim] Escobar and [Bartolo] Colon in '05. I don't think it's going to be deal." Weaver lost to the Rangers on three days' rest in Texas after Santana had won on short rest. It was a career first for both pitchers. Scioscia was encouraged by Santana's performance and not discouraged by Weaver's. "Jered got through six [innings] with a double play on [Yorvit] Torrealba," Scioscia said. "His velocity was there. In the seventh they got, what, four pitches, four hits. That changed things a bit." Weaver has had two starts since the Texas outing on longer than usual rest, adding to the possibility that he'll be asked to work on three days' rest soon -- perhaps on Sunday in Baltimore.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.