Norris hits late homer to help A’s beat Giants
PHOENIX (AP) Derek Norris hit a tying, two-run, homer in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics scored on a wild pitch in the ninth to beat the split-squad San Francisco Giants 7-6 on Friday.
Brandon Crawford and Hector Sanchez each drove in two runs and top pitching prospect Edwin Escobar threw two perfect innings with a strikeout for the Giants.
”I’m nowhere near where I want to be,” Crawford said. ”I still have to get my timing back and feel things out a little bit.”
Jarrod Parker, in line to be the A’s starter on opening day, lasted only 1 1-3 innings. He allowed six runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batter.
”It was good to get out there and get the different feeling,” Parker said. ”Pitching to hitters and then coming in here, the speed is up a little bit. You want to keep the same tempo.”
Brandon Belt and Gary Brown each added two hits and drove in a run for the Giants.
Stephen Vogt and Jed Lowrie drove in runs for the A’s.
The Giants scored all their runs in the first two innings. Sanchez hit a double into right field to score two runners in the first, Crawford tripled into the right-center field gap to score two runners and Belt singled home Crawford.
Sam Fuld tripled and scored on Lowrie’s sacrifice fly in the fourth. Vogt singled home Daric Barton in the fifth.
Athletics: Like a lot of proven pitchers, Parker wasn’t fretting over a shaky line in spring training.
”I was making the same delivery when I wanted but I wasn’t executing,” he said. ”I really wanted to get back used to the game feeling. It’s tough to simulate that with live batting practice. It’s a good time to find out where I’m at.”
WHAT A RELIEF
A’s lefty Sean Doolittle also made his spring debut, recording a pair of strikeouts in a perfect inning.
”I’ve been a couple of days behind so it was good to get out there,” said Doolittle, who is working to add a slider and changeup to his repertoire. ”All the work I’ve done in the side sessions I executed. They’ve come a long way and it’s good to see they actually work.”
GETTING THE BATS LOOSE
Neither Belt nor Crawford feels particularly fluid in the batter’s box, though both hitters got solid results.
”I’m starting to feel comfortable in the box,” Crawford said. ”It usually takes the first week to see all the pitches.”
Crawford was an early arrival to camp this spring, specifically to iron out things with his swing.
”You can take all the batting practice you want but it’s completely different when you start facing pitchers,” Crawford said.
Belt also arrived early and then had his spring interrupted by flying to Florida for an arbitration hearing that never happened. He returned to Arizona with a one-year contract in hand and seemed to be making solid contact right away.
”I feel OK, but not where I want to be,” Belt said. ”I’ve been hitting off a tee because the weather was so terrible at home. I felt good enough to get a couple of hits and compete. By the end of spring training I hope to be exactly where I want to be.”
Jake Elmore, acquired by the A’s this week in a deal with the Chicago White Sox, singled in his first appearance. He replaced Nick Punto at second. Elmore is uniquely versatile on a team loaded with multi-position players. He can and has played all nine positions.
”It’s nice to have the versatility on a team that’s versatile,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Melvin also reiterated Yoenis Cespedes would serve as a designated hitter the first week of games before returning to left field.
”We want to ease him into it,” Melvin said. ”He doesn’t know how to go full speed.”