Derek Norris Hits Walk-off 3-Run Home Run to Give Oakland A's Thrilling 4-2 Win

Clarence Baldwin JrAnalyst IJune 24, 2012

Norris had much more success when it mattered.
Norris had much more success when it mattered.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Three games and three thrilling finishes in Oakland.

In the finale, the A's finally ended up on the positive side.

Rookie Derek Norris hit a two-out, walk-off three-run home run to give the A's a 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants to salvage the finale of the Bay Bridge series at the Coliseum.

For the A's, it was sweet justice, considering an egregious call on an apparent Seth Smith double left the score 2-1 until Norris' big blast.

Sunday's matinee began with the same type of fireworks the first two games had.

Buster Posey's monster two-run home run in the first off rookie A.J. Griffin made it 2-0. The A's responded in the bottom of the inning with a single from Josh Reddick, who appeared to beat the throw to second base, but was ruled out. From there, Griffin and Giants ace Matt Cain matched zeros until both departed. 

Cain, as usual, was brilliant. Over seven strong innings, he allowed only three hits and two walks while striking out seven.

The surprise was Griffin, starting for the injured Brandon McCarthy. At one point, he retired 13 Giants hitters in a row and exited after six-plus innings. Only allowing three hits and a walk while striking out four, he turned it over to the A's bullpen.

Sean Doolittle and Jim Miller pitched three scoreless innings for the A's, giving the offense a chance to come back. It appeared they did in the bottom of the sixth.

With two on and two outs, Seth Smith hit a liner down the right field line that hit the painted foul line and kicked up chalk. But first base umpire Todd Tichenor ruled it foul.

Smith would pop out in left field foul territory to end the threat. 

In the eighth, the A's had runners on the corners with one out for Reddick, but Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt induced a 6-4-3 double play to end that threat, and the scored remained 2-1.

Closer Santiago Casilla entered to end the game and promptly allowed a single to Yoenis Cespedes. After striking out Smith, Brandon Inge singled to left and put runners on first and second. Brandon Moss then struck out, setting the stage for Norris.

On a 3-2 pitch, he crushed a fastball into the seats above the out-of-town scoreboard to give the A's the win.


Good: A.J. Griffin and Derek Norris

Quite simply, the rookies were outstanding. After the home run to Buster Posey, Griffin only allowed a single hit the remainder of his start. He was poised, had good movement on his pitches and controlled all his pitches—for the most part.

It would have been easy to spin out after that bomb Posey hit, but instead Griffin buckled down and kept the A's right in it. Another great sign.

And, of course, Norris came through when it counted and saved the game for the A's. It is looking more and more like the youth movement is about to begin in Oakland.


Bad: Situational Hitting

The A's went 1-for-5, other than Norris' home run. Even Reddick's hit would end up with him out at second base. Reddick needed only a sac fly to tie the score, but hit into a crushing double play. Moss had a chance in the ninth, but was blown away.

It is hard again to find fault when the team is facing one of the best pitchers in baseball, but the A's had chances and did not take advantage of them.


Ugly: The Umpiring Crew

There were two bad calls that both could have negatively affected the A's.

Reddick was not tagged in the first, but called out. It can be excused, as most vicinity plays at second base go to the defense.

However, Smith's liner in the sixth was clearly fair. There is no recourse for egregious human error, which easily could have cost the A's a big game.

As it stands, they managed to win anyway, but the reality is that it should not have come down to that in the first place.

Now 34-38, the A's will hit the road, starting with a three-game series against division rival Seattle. Tom Milone will get the ball Monday evening against the Mariners' Erasmo Ramirez.