A's manager Bob Melvin has made it clear that he has no reservations when it comes to playing young talent.
In front of a sold-out and loud Oakland Coliseum crowd Sunday, those kids came out to play.
Derek Norris provided the euphoric jolt, a three-run, walk-off home run, and A.J. Griffin made a sterling major league debut on the mound as the A's beat the Giants 4-2 to salvage the finale of a three-game series.
Trailing 2-1 heading to the ninth, the A's ignited a large portion of the 36,067 fans in attendance. With Jonny Gomes on second and Brandon Inge on first, Norris worked the count full against Giants closer Santiago Casilla.
After fouling off a pitch, Norris deposited a fastball into the left-field bleachers for his first career homer and the A's first come-from-behind walk-off homer since Marco Scutaro's blast against the New York Yankees in 2007.
"I battled back to a decent count to hit in, and I knew he didn't want to walk me," Norris said. "He painted a 3-1 pitch on the black, and then luckily (catcher Buster) Posey dropped the foul ball I hit. I got another chance, and I took advantage of it."
For his trouble, Norris got the trifecta of postgame celebrations. He got dunked with water and Gatorade and also got a shaving cream pie to the face.
"My eyes are still trying to come back. I can actually only see about half of you right now," Norris said. "It's a good feeling, and I wouldn't trade it for the
The late-game heroics took Griffin off the hook for what would have been an undeserved loss. The 24-year old got the call when Brandon McCarthy (sore shoulder) was placed on the disabled list, and he allowed just two runs in six innings. The only blemish was a two-run home run in the first by Posey.
After that first inning, Griffin returned to the dugout and promised his teammates that was all the Giants would get.
"That was wishful thinking, and it came to fruition," Griffin said. "Just get it out of the way, I guess is how you could look at it. I just tried to wipe the slate clean and go out and compete."
It was because of Griffin that Norris even got the shot to win the game. Kurt Suzuki was scheduled to catch, but Melvin elected to use Norris because of his familiarity with Griffin from Triple-A Sacramento.
Short-term excitement aside, the win also helped to restore some of the momentum gained by the A's recent hot streak. They finished the nine-game homestand 6-3 and closed their recent 15-game sojourn into interleague play with a 9-6 mark.
"We've been playing good baseball and couldn't squeak a couple wins out," Norris said. "Battled back last night, and today (Giants starter Matt) Cain pitched very well, and it was very tough to scratch any runs across. We battled back and got a (win)."
But the shoulder soreness that forced him to delay a start in that stretch landed him on the disabled list for the second time this season.
"It's frustrating in the fact that he's pitched so well every time he takes the ball," Melvin said. "He was out for a more significant period last year, and hopefully that's not the case this year. That's why we're trying, whether it's extra rest or bumping him a start or at this point the D.L., we're trying to keep him available more so than not."
The A's went into the game with just three players available off the bench.
"We're going to be careful with certain guys in the bullpen," Melvin said. "Certainly (Ryan) Cook we're not going to overdo. We're not going to overdo (Sean) Doolittle, based on his history. We're going to be careful with guys. If they need rest, we're going to give them rest."
A's (Tommy Milone 7-5) at Seattle (Erasmo Ramirez 0-1), 7:10 p.m., CSNCA