Buster Posey

Derek Norris walkoff HR salvages thrilling Bay Bridge series for A’s

Anyone who attended all three games got their money’s worth, and not just because tickets are cheaper at O.Co than they are at AT&T. There were times when both the A’s and Giants were either great or mediocre in every phase of the game — starting pitching, hitting, relief pitching and defense. The final product: three lively, action-packed games, all decided in the 9th inning.

After the Athletics were arguably robbed of two consecutive victories, Derek Norris provided a huge win and the most thrilling finish with his walkoff home run. A homer seemed almost inevitable at some point, since Santiago Casilla (who pitched every game of this Bay Bridge series and allowed at least 1 ER in each contest) was leaving the ball up. Casilla has done a fine job filling in for Brian Wilson as the Giants’ fulltime closer, even at times making the job look relatively easy after years of Wilson’s stressful stylings. But a lot of Casilla’s flyballs are traveling a long way, something I mentioned on Friday after allowing a HR to Josh Reddick (who had a great series: 6-for-11, 3 BB, 2 HR, 2 SB):

Julian Levine of Giants Nirvana had a good point as well — Casilla’s HR/FB is currently at 20.8%.

Bruce Bochy certainly thought about pulling Casilla, but it appeared that with two games already in the bank against the A’s and a lot of games remaining this season, Bochy invested long-term in his closer. First, instead of putting in Javier Lopez to face Brandon Moss, Bochy ran out to the mound, said something to Casilla and the infielders, then let Casilla face the left-hander (whom he struck out). After that, Bochy could have replaced Casilla with Sergio Romo to face Oakland’s rookie catcher … but that isn’t the kind of move Bochy makes lightly. Bochy might act differently the next time Casilla is pitching for the third consecutive day after two shaky outings in a row, but leaving him in on Sunday was understandable.

A’s impressions

It’s no secret that I’ve watched a lot more Giants baseball than I’ve seen of the A’s. But even if San Francisco had swept their cross-bay rivals, the A’s still looked mighty impressive. Can they overtake the Texas Rangers? No way. But Jarrod Parker looks promising, Josh Reddick is a star in the making and their bullpen has some live arms. And we didn’t even see the same Yoenis Cespedes who terrorized the Dodgers in this series. The A’s never gave up throughout the last two games of this series (they really should’ve won yesterday, too), and it was fitting that a couple of recent callups (Norris and A.J. Griffin) finally vanquished the Giants to keep from losing five of six to San Francisco in 2012.

The two would-be stars

Buster Posey and Matt Cain learned — by no fault of their own — that two players can’t win a game by themselves. Posey’s second HR in as many days was crushed to left, and cutting off Gregor Blanco’s ill-advised throw in front of the plate and quickly gunning Reddick at second will go mostly forgotten after Norris received a Gatorade-and-shaving-cream facial (which seemed to really mess up his eyes; players have to be careful with mixing the chemicals in shaving cream with the chemicals in the nation’s most popular sports beverage, as unintended reactions could occur).

Cain lowered his ERA and WHIP a bit, which helps his All-Star starter and Cy Young Award campaigns, but in the end this afternoon was just another frustrating outing in Oakland. Add in Sunday’s no-decision, and here are Cain’s lifetime stats at the Coliseum.

5 starts, 1-2 record, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 37.1 IP, 18 H, 5 ER, 10BB, 30 K, 1.21 ERA, 0.75 WHIP

His ERA in Oakland went UP, as it was 1.19 going into Sunday’s game.

A’s sound

Here’s Derek Norris’ postgame interview, courtesy of Ben Schneider.

Derek Norris

And here’s Reddick, who has a shot to become the A’s first 20/20 guy since Ruben Sierra (1993) and the first Oakland player to hit over 30 home runs and steal over 20 bases since Jose Canseco (1991):

Josh Reddick

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