OAKLAND -– Unfortunately for A’s catcher Derek Norris, he’s run out of holidays to honor his parents for the rest of the season.
Norris enjoyed a long-distance phone call with his dad, Russ, on Father’s Day morning, then went out and slugged a three-run homer to send the A’s on their way to a 10-5 win and series victory over the New York Yankees.
You might remember that Norris turned in a grand performance on Mother’s Day too, connecting for not one but two three-run homers off Gio Gonzalez in a win over Washington.
“I'm sure once I talk to him after the game now, he's probably going to be like, ‘Why didn't you hit two?'” Norris joked.
His power-hitting display will make for quite the conversation piece in the Norris family, but it also had people talking inside the home clubhouse. All seems right in the A’s world when they handle business as they did in front of a sold-out Sunday afternoon crowd.
This team has ridden the strength of the long ball all season, particularly with runners on base. But they had homered just once in the past five games and were averaging just 3.67 runs over their previous nine games.
Then Norris worked the count to 3-1 off Yankees lefty Vidal Nuno in the bottom of the first and sent a pitch sailing over the left field wall, giving him a major league-best 23 RBI against left-handed pitching this season.
In the second, Coco Crisp added his own three-run shot to make it 6-0.
When the A’s go deep, they make them count. They entered Sunday with 39 home runs with runners on base, trailing Toronto by just one for the major league lead.
“We haven’t been swinging the bat as well as we were earlier, certainly on the power portion of it,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But two big three-run homers today gets you off to a good start.”
Five of Norris’ seven homers this season, and eight of 23 in his career, have come with at least two men on base. But Sunday, he came close to a career first. Or, in his opinion, not so close.
He fell just a triple shy of the cycle.
“I think someone's going to have to fall down and break their leg in order for me to get all the way to third,” Norris quipped.
The Texas Rangers arrive Monday for a three-game series that will shift the A’s focus back to the A.L. West. The past three days were dominated by news of Derek Jeter playing his final three regular-season games at the Coliseum. That point was drilled home each time Jeter stepped to the plate, as droves of Yankee fans in No. 2 jerseys roared their appreciation.
The A’s showed nothing but respect for the occasion, and Melvin took part in a pregame ceremony to honor the retiring Yankees shortstop along with hitting coach Chili Davis. Both were once teammates of the future Hall of Famer.
“There’s very few people who you could say have meant as much to the game as he has,” Melvin said. “The game forgets in a hurry when you go away. A guy like that, not so much.”
Added Norris: “The last couple years we've had two (retiring) players that are second to none in Mariano (Rivera) and then Jeter this year. They're two class guys that have come through and they deserve anything and everything that they're getting.”
It figures that Norris probably picked up the phone and called his father again Sunday night. And despite his penchant for holiday homers, he expected his dad to bring up something else.
“He was probably more impressed with the line drive to right field that I had,” Norris said. “That was always his thing growing up – ‘You can't be a pull monster.' I'm sure he'll be like, 'I was digging that line drive to right.' I'm sure that's exactly what he'll say.”