Derek Norris had a career game Sunday afternoon, providing the power for the Athletics as they easily downed the Nationals to complete a three-game series sweep.
The burly catcher launched a pair of three-run home runs in the first two innings, giving the A’s a comfortable lead which would never be threatened in an eventual 9-1 victory.
The two homers came on 3-0 counts against former Athletic Gio Gonzalez, prompting chants of “3-0, D-No!” in the A’s dugout as the slugger trotted through the team’s home run tunnel.
“Maybe he thought he could sneak one in there, and I rarely miss those, usually not for a 3-run homer, but usually something hard somewhere,” said Norris. “It’s just one of those crazy days where it just worked out twice.”
Normally the A’s M.O. is to take a pitch on a 3-0 count, however Bob Melvin gave Norris the green light to swing away if it was a good pitch to hit.
“Gio has been around here and knows we don’t do that a whole lot,” Melvin said. “Derek is seeing the ball very well, and I trusted him to take it if it’s a ball.”
Billy Beane had to be all smiles after the weekend sweep, and his 2011 trade with the Nationals panning out the way it has. The trade sent Gonzalez and Robert Gilliam to Washington for prospects Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Norris. Milone pitched eight scoreless innings to earn the victory over the Nats on Friday.
When asked if it felt a little sweeter to have a great game against the team that traded you, Norris replied, “Oh, most definately!”
Norris’ battery mate Scott Kazmir had a great game as well, retiring 15 consecutive batters at one point in tossing seven scoreless frames and improving his record on the season to 5-1.
“He was great. After a couple long innings he came out and made them short innings, and got ‘em back on the field. He’s been great for us,” said Norris.
Utility infielder Nick Punto doubled his RBI output of the season in two at bats, knocking in 3 runs on the afternoon with a single and a double.
Oakland outscored Washington 19-4 in the series, and own a 3-game lead atop the AL west.
Next up for the A’s will be a 3-game series hosting the White Sox beginning Monday night. Jesse Chavez (2-1, 2.47) will take the hill opposed by John Danks (3-2, 4.93) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PST.