Derek Norris smashed a superb three-run homer to save the Oakland Athletics in the 11th innings against the Minnesota Twins.
The 25-year-old’s hit saw the A’s claim a 7-4 victory over the Twins after a stunning diving run by Minnesota’s Kurt Suzuki in the ninth levelled the scores.
Momentum seemed to be with the Twins heading into the extra innings but they could not put it to good use and Norris made them pay with a powerful strike over left field. With runners on first and second bases the catcher’s homer made the result look far more comfortable than it was.
The A’s took the home side by surprise after they led 4-0 at the top of the first innings.
Sam Fuld, Jed Lowrie, Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss all made it home and it gave the Twins a mountain to climb as they prepared to bat their first innings.
With the home crowd rattled by their sides’ poor start, it required Ron Gardenhire to stir his players into action after Jason Kubel’s home run reduced the deficit to three at the bottom of the second.
Neither side produced any initiative whilst batting the middle innings and it took until the eighth for Minnesota to begin their comeback.
With one out Brain Dozier cleared the left centre field to homer and when Oakland failed to score in the ninth it left the Twins needing three to win and two to force extra innings.
Eduardo Escobar picked a single on a fly ball to fielder Yoenis Cespedes to allow Kebul to get home and move Suzuki to third.
Dozier struck the ball high into the air to fielder Josh Reddick and became the sacrifice to allow Suzuki to run home. The call was reviewed by the Umpires but it was judged Suzuki’s left-handed dive was safe from catcher Norris’ efforts.
But the Twins were unable to complete the turnaround as Norris stepped up to the plate in the 11th to give the A’s their fifth victory of the season.
The A’s complete their three game series tonight at Minnesota before traveling to play the Seattle Mariners at the weekend.
The Twins will look to bounce back from this defeat when they host the Kansas City Royals for a three game series.
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