“Clutch Norris” leads A’s three-headed catching monster

5 Comments

OAKLAND — There is one lone sticker on the nameplates in the A’s locker room. It boasts the words “Clutch Norris” above Derek Norris’ stall.

Never have the words been more true than Tuesday night when the catcher came off the bench in the sixth inning and collected the team’s final five RBI over two at-bats, including the game winner.

He became the 21st player and fourth Athletic in MLB history to enter the game as a substitute and collect at least five RBI, joining fellow A’s Mickey Tettleton, Erubiel Durazo (2004) and Seth Smith (2012) on the short list.

“That doesn’t really happen too often,” Norris acknowledged after his fourth career pinch-hit home run. “Never had a five-RBI game off the bench.”

But Norris was only one of three catchers to contribute in the A’s 10-6 win over Yu Darvish and the rival Rangers.

[RECAP: A’s 10, Rangers 6]

Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso combined to go 7-for-8 with seven RBI and three runs in support of winning pitcher Tommy Milone.

“It’s a lot of fun right now,” Milone said after extending his career high-tying winning streak to five games. “Especially when they’re all in the lineup together, it seems like they are all producing.”

“It’s awesome,” said Vogt. “It’s a three-headed … catching … situation.”

It sounded like he wanted to call the catching trio a “three-headed monster” and resisted, but it wouldn’t have been an overstatement.

“We have three guys that could start in a number of places,” Melvin said. “It’s a luxury.”

Still, after pinning Darvish with his eighth loss in 10 starts against Oakland, the A’s are not ready to claim they’ve figured him out.

“We’re fortunate,” Melvin said after the game. “As far as that quality a pitcher that you end up having success against, I’d have to think for a while.”

Darvish, who can take solace in reaching the 600-strikeout milestone in the first inning, is now 0-2 with a 7.02 ERA in three starts against the A’s this year. He’s lost eight of 10 career starts against Oakland.

“I don’t know what it is about Darvish’s style that just fits into our hitting pattern,” Norris said. “One through nine, that guy was just grinding. Every guy that came up, it was a battle.

“I can only imagine that it can be a little frustrating. Sometimes good pitchers just have that one kryptonite team.”

The sticker above Norris’ locker might as well have have read “Superman” on Tuesday.

Yankees, Brett Gardner reunite on one-year, $12.5 million deal

Elsa/Getty Images
1 Comment

George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner are back together on a one-year, $12.5 million contract. The deal includes a second year option worth $20 million.

Gardner, 36, is coming off of the strongest offensive season of his career, batting .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs, 74 RBI, 86 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases over 550 plate appearances. While he has certainly lost a step or two with age, he still rates as an above-average defensive corner outfielder as well.

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the Yankees also value Gardner — a veteran of 12 seasons — for his leadership, especially with CC Sabathia and Didi Gregorius gone.

Bringing Gardner back into the fold allows Giancarlo Stanton to remain the full-time DH. Gardner will return to left field with Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge reprising their roles in center and right, respectively.