In the seventh inning, Derek Norris entered the game as a pinch hitter for the Oakland Athletics and connected on a first pitch fastball for his seventh home run of the season. As the drive clanked off the concrete stairs beyond the left field fence, the Athletics claimed a 2-1 lead en route to an eventual 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Before launching that shot, Norris had been 0-for-8 as a pinch hitter in 2013 and 0-for-12 in his career.
The 24-year-old catcher might only be hitting .214 on the season, but Norris is incredibly valuable to the Athletics. In his young career with the club, a full 50 percent of his home runs (7 of 14) have given the Athletics the lead.
In 2013, Norris has contributed 10 game-tying or go-ahead RBI. That total is dwarfed by Josh Donaldson‘s 23, but it’s still quite impressive. Especially for a platooning catcher, who’s greatest asset perhaps might be his calming and overall awesome influence on the club’s pitching staff.
Following his two-run shot off Scott Downs, Norris has now hit all seven of his home runs off left-handers. Interestingly, six of them have come at the O.co Coliseum. Norris is also having a terrific month of July as he is now batting .333 (9-for-27) with seven walks. He’s also collected four of his home runs during the month.
It would be great if this July trend continues for Norris, but his rock-solid defense behind the plate, and knack for hitting timely bombs works as well.