Derek Norris makes first career homer a walkoff blast

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The A’s were dealt a couple of very tough losses in the first two games against the Giants. On Friday, Ryan Cook, who entered with an 0.57 ERA, gave up four runs in the ninth to take a blown save and a loss. On Saturday, the A’s rallied for four runs in the ninth, only to come up just short and lose 9-8.

Today, the A’s finally got it done, all thanks to Derek Norris’ first major league homer.

Norris delivered a three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth off Santiago Casilla, giving the A’s a 4-2 victory. It was just the second blown save in 22 opportunities for Casilla.

Norris was called up last week to share time with the struggling Kurt Suzuki behind the plate for Oakland. Today’s start was his third as a big leaguer, but he already has more RBI (four) than Suzuki does in the last month (three).

The A’s comeback ruined Matt Cain’s streak of victories in eight straight starts. No one else has won more than six consecutive starts this season, though R.A. Dickey will go for No. 7 tonight. Cain didn’t figure in the decision, obviously, but this marked the first time since May 1 than the Giants had lost one of his starts.

 

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.