Seventh-inning grand slam cuts Padres' deficit to two runs
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- Derek Norris' fourth start of the season at first base couldn't have begun any worse. By the end, it turned into one of the best games of his career.
In the second inning of San Diego's eventual 8-7 win, with just one single on the day, Norris allowed a runner to reach when he muffed a routine throw from third baseman Yangervis Solarte. He didn't make another mistake all day, combining an otherwise flawless game in the field with a career-high five hits, including a grand slam. Norris singled four times -- the last one sparking the Padres' inspired ninth-inning rally leading up to Justin Upton's game-winning homer -- and his slam in the seventh brought his team within two runs after facing a 7-1 deficit.
"A bloop and a blast, and we have this game tied up," Norris thought.
Padres interim manager Pat Murphy said he saw a rejuvenated Norris after giving the primary catcher a two-day break from behind the plate. Norris entered this series near the National League leaders in games caught. The wear and tear had something to do with his meager July output (four RBIs in 18 games) entering Thursday.
Norris had never collected more than three hits in a game. On Thursday, his five came in all shapes and sizes.
Norris tapped an infield hit in the first, smacked a liner to right in the third and poked a chopper over Mets first baseman Lucas Duda's head in the sixth. An inning later, he turned on a 96-mph Hansel Robles fastball on an 0-2 count and deposited it into the seats in left field, clearing the bases.
In the ninth, umpires suspended play as Norris stood in against closer Jeurys Familia with an 0-1 count.
"I really didn't see much," Norris said. "Water was splashing all over my helmet."
Forty-four minutes later, Norris capped a career day when he blooped a leadoff single as play resumed. Standing on second with Upton batting, Norris had a feeling his fortune wasn't about to turn.
"I knew I was going to score. I didn't know J-Up was going to hit a homer," Norris said. "These are the types of games that give you confidence."
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.