OAKLAND -- Before this year, Martin Maldonado had never played more than 79 games in a single season in the Majors, but he's become a workhorse ever since the Angels acquired him in an offseason trade with the Brewers and gave him his first shot at becoming an everyday catcher.
On Monday, Maldonado caught his Major League-leading 117th game of the season and homered twice to help the Angels pull out an 11-9 victory over the A's in 11 innings at the Coliseum.
"He keeps doing it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Besides the home runs, he's got a great game plan. He carries it in there. He cares about the pitchers and the defensive part of his game, and he's as valuable as any player we have on our club."
Though the Angels have been carrying three catchers on their roster in September, Maldonado has started four games in a row, including all three of the Angels' games in Texas over the weekend, and will likely not see his workload lessen as the Angels make a push for an American League Wild Card berth over the final month of the season.
Though his offensive production has waned over the last couple of months, Maldonado came through with his bat twice against the A's. In the second, he launched a 431-foot solo homer off Chris Smith to tie the game, 4-4. He struck again in the fourth, hammering a two-run shot to straightaway center to put the Angels ahead, 6-5.
Maldonado also took Smith deep in Anaheim last week, giving him three home runs off the Oakland right-hander in the last six days.
"Just a coincidence," Maldonado said. "I got good pitches to hit, and I didn't miss them."
While Maldonado did some damage at the plate on Monday, his primary value to the Angels has always come from his defense, which he showed again with a key play in the sixth inning. After the A's put runners on the corners and one out, Matt Joyce attempted to advance to second on a wild pitch by Cam Bedrosian, but Maldonado quickly corralled the ball and threw to Andrelton Simmons to catch Joyce in a rundown. Boog Powell then tried to score from third on the play, but Simmons threw to Maldonado, who tagged Powell out at the plate, preserving the Angels' 9-7 lead.
"It's a huge play at the time," Scioscia said. "It really stifles that inning and lets Cam get out of a tough spot."
Added Maldonado: "That's the reason that they have me here, to help the pitchers. I prepare myself with those guys to catch. We're making the push for the playoffs, and hopefully I stay out there and help the team defensively."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.