Derek Norris’ Walk-Off Saves The Oakland Athletics From Being Swept By The San Francisco Giants
Today A.J. Griffin made his Major League debut for the Oakland Athletics against the San Francisco Giants taking the place of Brandon McCarthy who was put on the 15-day disabled list due to a lingering shoulder injury. Griffin’s challenge was to keep the A’s in the game to avoid being swept at home by the Giants and that was no easy task because on the mound for the Giants, Matt Cain. Technically the first inning was the only inning that either starter allowed any runs.
The Giants got on the board early with a two-run shot by catcher Buster Posey and the A’s got on the scoreboard with an rbi single by Josh Reddick and after the first inning both pitchers settled down. Griffin after the first inning didn’t find himself in any trouble until the top of the seventh when he walked the lead off hitter, which happened to be the last batter he faced. Sean Doolittle came in and recorded the next three outs including two strikeouts to end the inning.
Cain found himself in the most trouble in the sixth inning. Jemile Weeks got on with a one-out single, Reddick bounced into a fielder’s choice with Weeks out at second, during Yoenis Cespedes‘ at-bat, Reddick stole second and Cespedes eventually walked. Seth Smith had a great at-bat against Cain and fouled off some tough pitches, Smith finally got a pitch that he liked and raked it down the right field for what would have been a two-run double bringing in both Reddick and Cespedes. Yet, Todd Tichenor the first base umpire ruled the ball foul and after watching the replay the call was missed. After the Giants caught the break, Smith eventually fouled out to left field.
In the top of the eighth inning the Giants had a glimmer of hope given to them after Doolittle gave up a bunt single and a walk with two outs. With the dangerous Melky Cabrera coming to the plate, A’s manager Bob Melvin didn’t want Doolittle facing him and brought in Jim Miller and Miller got Cabrera to fly out.
Another opportunity presented itself to the A’s in the eighth inning with Jeremy Affelt on the mound. Pinch hitter Brandon Hicks doubled to leadoff the inning. Coco Crisp sacrificed Hicks to third, Weeks walked and Reddick then hit into the inning ending double play and the A’s chances of avoiding a sweep seemed bleak.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy went to his closer Santiago Casilla and Cespedes ripped a single off of him and Jonny Gomes came into pinch run for Cespedes. Smith struck out on a nasty curve from Casilla and the Giants were just two outs from the sweep. Brandon Inge lined a single into left field giving the A’s some life and just maybe the opportunity to avoid the sweep. At this point the Giants had Javier Lopez warming up in the bullpen and yet Casilla was left in too face Brandon Moss and that was the right call as Moss struck out swinging and the A’s were down to their final out with rookie catcher Derek Norris up.
Norris worked the count into his favor, Casilla came back to work the count full with his fastball and the count was full and Norris fouled off a pitch too stay alive. Casilla then left a fastball in the middle of the plate and Norris did not miss it and for Norris his first Major League home run was a walk-off three-run homerun and more importantly the A’s avoided being swept with a 4-2 victory over the Giants. It was the second walk-off home run by an A’s rookie this week as Cespedes hit a walk-off against the Los Angeles Dodgers.