Norris, A’s Steal Giants’ Magic


What has been an incredibly frustrating weekend for all fans of the Oakland Athletics appeared to be heading in the same depressing direction as Sunday afternoon’s festivities played out. Every call, every bounce, every single break was going the Giants’ way and had been the difference in the first two games. I had predicted on Twitter prior to the game starting that Matt Cain would dominate the A’s, and Griffin would be saddled with a hard luck loss.  That came very close to being true, too close for comfort for most A’s fans.  But the result was worth the price of admission as the A’s new mountain man catcher Derek Norris smoked a Santiago Casilla fastball for a decisive walk off 3 run homer to send the A’s fans into a frenzy.  The A’s might have only won 2 of the 6 games they played against the Giants this year, but they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after this.

AJ Griffin made his major league debut today and did everything he could to prove he belongs in the big leagues.  After a changeup left up in the zone was crushed by Buster Posey in the top of the 1st, Griffin was downright dominant.  Until the leadoff walk to Posey (his only one of the day) in the 7th inning he had retired 13 Giants in a row.  I know this lineup is far from a “murderer’s row” but there are Major League hitters there, and Griffin shut them down.  It’s definitely not good to see Brandon McCarthy land on the DL again, but AJ Griffin will do his best to make A’s fans forget about losing their Opening Day starter.

As good as Griffin was though, Derek Norris has injected himself into A’s history with this massive homerun.  He was the very definition of a hero today as the A’s 9th inning rallies of the past two games fell painfully short, he made sure there would be no unfavorable bounces, no questionable calls, no doubt that the A’s were the victors in this game.  Norris was in the lineup due to his familiarity with Griffin in Sacramento, but he’s making a case with the bat to steal more playing time from Kurt Suzuki.

The more I think about this series, the less upset I become about how it all played out.  Sure the Giants won 2 out of 3, but how much of those wins were truly earned?  The A’s made their share of mistakes, the umpires fueled the wildest of conspiracy theories that everyone is out to get the A’s (Seth Smith’s would-be game tying double that was called foul was today’s evidence), and the Giants did take advantage of opportunities they were given.  But take solace in this fact, while they did fall short 2 out of 3 times, they did show a ton of fight and character in how they never gave up until the final out.  I’m not a believer in moral victories, a loss is a loss no matter how or why it happened, but this series could have or perhaps should have been swept by the A’s.  They were in a position to win every game.  The win today minimized the damage that this weekend could have inflicted if the Giants had swept them, now they sit again just 3 games under .500 which seems infinitely closer than being 5 games under.

We can now finally close the book on interleague play for 2012, which is something I for one am very happy to see.  The A’s return to extreme normal tomorrow night as they travel up to Seattle to face the Mariners, it’s kind of nice to see an old division foe again.  These two teams know each other very well after playing so many games against one another in the first weeks of the season.  The enigmatic Tommy Milone takes the hill for the A’s (eek, on the road!) with a 7-5 record with a 4.13 ERA against Erasmo Ramirez (wasn’t there another Erasmo Ramirez who came through the A’s system a few years back, but this isn’t him) who is 0-1 in 3 starts with a 5.40 ERA.  The A’s resume their pursuit of .500 and beyond in the Pacific Northwest, let’s hope the A’s bats can continue to produce as they have all June as the last full week of the month commences.

Check me out on Twitter @SeanD25, see my take on everything else baseball at Baseball Obsessed, and follow everything Swingin’ A’s @FS_SwinginAs.