Backup Catcher Sinks Yanks

October 19, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Jeff Mathis #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a walks off double in 11th inning in Game Three of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 19, 2009 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Yankees 5-4 in 11 innings. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Jeff Mathis #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a walks off double in 11th inning in Game Three of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 19, 2009 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Yankees 5-4 in 11 innings. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Jeff Mathis, a career .200 hitter, doubled in the winning run in the 11th inning on Monday in Anaheim to reduce the Yankees' advantage to 2–1 in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

Mathis was nearly the hero an inning earlier. He led off the 10th with a double, and the Angels eventually loaded the bases after closer Mariano Rivera replaced Jeff Hughes. But Rivera escaped the inning scoreless.

Mathis's extra-inning splash negated four solo homers by the Yankees.

Fans will debate the wisdom of Yankees manager Joe Girardi making a number of moves that resulted in the designated hitter moving into the field and Rivera into the two spot in the batting lineup. By the rules, when the DH moves into the field, the pitcher must move into the batting lineup.

Rivera's spot came up in the top of the 11th, the Yankees pinch hit for him, and the closer took a seat for the rest of the evening. David Robertson got two outs in the bottom of the 11th, and then Alfredo Aceves, the Yankees' eighth pitcher of the day, gave up a single to Angels second baseman Howard Kendrick. Then came the fateful blow by Mathis to end the Yankees' five-game postseason winning streak.

Early Homers Put Yanks Up

It was looking all Yankees early on in the game, with solo homers by Derek Jeter (his 20th career postseason homer), Alex Rodriguez, and Johnny Damon.

The Angels responded with a solo shot by Kendrick in the 5th and a two-run homer by cleanup man Vladimir Guerrero in the 6th. A sacrifice fly put the Angels up 4–3 in the 7th. Kendrick, who had tripled, scored one of his three runs.

The Yankees tied it up in the top of the 8th with a solo homer by Jorge Posada, who was fresh after sitting out the Yankees' 4–3 Saturday victory and Sunday's off day.

The Yankees used 20 of the 25 players on the postseason roster in this contest. Sometimes in baseball, though, making the most of your manpower doesn't produce the victory—and can even backfire if you don't have your best players in at the end of the game.

Game 4 is scheduled for 7:57 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. Lefthander CC Sabathia will pitch for the Yankees against Angels leftie Scott Kazmir.