By Kahlil Najar
OAKLAND – If the baseball world didn’t know that the A’s have a deep bench at the catcher position, they do now.
Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso went a combined 7 for 8 with 7 RBI and 7 hits to help propel the A’s (43-2) to a 10-6 victory over the Texas Rangers (35-36).
“It’s pretty amazing. It’s quiet a luxury. We have three guys that can start in a number of places,” said Melvin on the three catchers.
Norris, who came in for Jaso in the bottom of the sixth got his night started right when he launched a three run home run to left field off of Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson. Then in the eighth with Donaldson and Crisp aboard he hit a double that scored two more runs. Norris ended the night with two hits and five RBI off the bench.
Melvin praised Norris by saying, “He’s done it before coming off the bench. He has a knack. He’s ready for the situation. He knows how to pinch hit. You don’t play for a majority of the game and you end up with 5 RBI means you’re taking advantage of your opportunities.”
Texas pitch Yu Darvish (7-3) suffered his third loss of the year and is now 1-8 against the A’s lifetime.
“His stuff is so good and on top of that he has seven different pitches. We’ve been really fortunate, we’ve made him work and a few guys square him up and have some good numbers off of him. But he’s about as good as you get,” said Melvin.
Vogt, who went 3 for 3 off of Darvish said, “I saw him pretty well today, fortunately saw three pitches to hit and hit all three of them. He’s such a good pitcher and we’ve been fortunate enough to have success against him. I don’t have anything to explain that.”
On his night, Norris said “I’ve worked pretty hard on making my swing more consistent, just more level of a bat path, but ultimately trying to stay in the zone as long as I can with the bat. The longer you’re in the zone, the more chances you have of barreling the ball. So that’s my main goal, and I’ve worked hard on it. It’s paying off.”
Tommy Milone (5-3) who started the game for the A’s had a decent night as he went 5 2/3 innings with three strike outs and three runs. Milone’s nemesis has been the first inning this year and today was no different as he gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead off of a single from Adrian Beltre.
However in the bottom of the second the A’s had three runs cross the plate with two runs coming because of a single by Alberto Callaspo and single from Vogt. In the fourth, the A’s added to their lead when after two stolen bases by Eric Sogard, Coco Crisp was able to hit a sac fly to bring Sogard home and make it a 4-1 Oakland lead.
In the top of the fifth, the Rangers Rougned Odor hit his third homer of the year and brought the score to 4-2. The A’s responded in the bottom of the inning with another RBI from Vogt to make bring the lead back to three and a 5-2 score.
The Rangers added a run in the top of the sixth and bring the lead back to two but then in the bottom of the sixth is when Norris came in. Norris knocked his pinch hit homer and made it a 8-3 game.
The Rangers tried to make it interesting as they added three runs in the top of the 7th but in the bottom of the 8th, Norris came up to the plate and hit his eleventh double of the year to make it a 10-6 final.
“D-No is such a good baseball player,” said Vogt. “He’s having an All-Star caliber year, and I hope that gets recognized. What he’s done off the bench, just what I’ve been fortunate enough to witness, it’s incredible the way he comes in, he doesn’t get big, he doesn’t try to do too much and comes through all the time.”
The A’s and Rangers close out the series tomorrow when Sonny Gray (6-3) goes against Nick Tepsch (2-2), game time 12:35 pm PST.