Twice as nice: Mathias walks off A's with HR

Bay Area native part of 11-hit attack to upend Oakland with late drama

September 14th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- admits he was thinking about it in the eighth inning. The possibility of a walk-off win against his hometown team was too large to not think about at the moment.

The moment didn't turn out to be too big for the 28-year-old utilityman/first baseman.

With the Rangers and A’s tied at 7-7 with one out in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday night, Mathias turned on an inside fastball and launched it a projected 395 feet into the left-field stands to secure an 8-7 victory for Texas to open the two-game set.

"I was just trying to be in the moment," Mathias said. "You go into the ninth, you get a shutout inning in the top of the ninth and you're walking down the steps of the dugout, it's like, ‘I could end the game right here with one swing.’ And I never hit a walk-off home run before so it was pretty cool."

It was indeed the first career walk-off for Mathias, as well as the first game-tying or go-ahead homer of his short big league career. He finished the day 3-for-5 with four RBIs, two home runs and a double.

He joked that he was definitely running on adrenaline all day, still recovering from the Rangers' split doubleheader in Miami on Monday.

"Adrenaline is a real thing," Mathias said. "But you're playing in the big leagues against some of the guys you look up to growing up. I was at first base and I looked over and saw and I was like, ‘Dang, this is absolutely crazy because I've always watched that guy growing up.’ He's a role model of mine. ... He’s been very welcoming, and has given me a lot of advice these last couple weeks. He’s helped me out a lot."

Semien, a fellow Bay Area native who went 3-for-5 with his first career three-double performance on Tuesday night, said the two bonded over their shared roots early on, a factor that helped make Mathias' walk-off that much more meaningful.

"Tonight was special playing against the Oakland A's, a team that's right in his backyard and in my backyard," Semien said. "So in terms of what he did tonight, that was extremely big for us, a team that's struggling. We need big at bats like that late in the game."

Mathias, born in Santa Clara, Calif., roughly 40 miles from Oakland, came to Texas in a Trade Deadline deal that sent reliever Matt Bush to Milwaukee. At the time, he wasn’t even seen as the main return with No. 14 prospect Antoine Kelly also joining the system.

It’s almost understandable for Mathias to be overlooked in the deal, considering he had gone just 2-for-16 in six games with the Brewers this season. But since the trade, Mathis has hit .366/.458/.732 with a 1.190 OPS, four home runs and 14 RBIs in still limited at-bats with the Rangers.

"Good players, you can’t have enough of them," said interim manager Tony Beasley. "He's just given us a ton of quality at-bats ever since he arrived. You can trust his at-bats. That's a good thing. I’m really pleased with what he's doing. He makes the pitcher make good pitches. He doesn't chase a lot. He just makes you work and it puts a good AB on you. Those are the types of things that wear pitchers down, and he constantly does that when he's in there."

Mathias and Semien weren’t the only Rangers to put together good days at the plate, as went 2-for-2 with a a double, a homer, three RBIs and two walks.

In total, Texas recorded 11 hits against Oakland, 10 of which went for extras bases and seven of which were doubles. The 10 extra-base hits set a season high, and were the most tallied by the club since June 12, 2021, against the Dodgers (9).

After going down 3-0 and 7-2 at different points in the game, the Texas offense continued to battle back, while the bullpen duo of Taylor Hearn and Brock Burke combined for five shutout innings behind starter .

"[It’s big] to show up today after some tough travel, to have fight and energy after getting down early," Beasley said. "We just kept fighting. Taylor and Burke did a really good job just putting up zeros, and gave us a chance to chip away, chip away and we just kept getting big hits. It's just good to see the team fight like that. That's the thing that makes me excited."