Norris flashes skills with game-ending throw

Norris flashes skills with game-ending throw

Norris flashes skills with game-ending throw
OAKLAND -- Throwing out a potential base stealer is nothing new to A's catcher Derek Norris. But when he threw out Orioles pinch-runner Xavier Avery at second with two outs in the top of the ninth to preserve the A's 3-2 win Friday night, Norris broke new ground.

"I've never ended a game like that before, so that was a first," Norris said before Saturday night's game against Baltimore. "A lot of adrenaline, a lot of excitement. It was something pretty cool."

Norris knew what he was facing when Avery pinch-ran after Matt Wieters led off with an infield single against closer Grant Balfour.

"I've actually played against him for the last four years," Norris said. "When I was with the Nationals, we played Baltimore -- all in the Minor Leagues. Knew he could run. Took a mound visit, told Balfour, 'Just mix your looks. Make sure you don't give him the time to go.'"

Balfour struck out pinch-hitter Endy Chavez then retired Mark Reynolds on a fly ball to left. Chris Davis, who had hit his 26th home run of the season in the fifth inning, fell behind Balfour 1-2. On Balfour's next pitch, Avery took off for second, and Norris gunned him down.

"That's kind of what shocked me the most was the fact that virtually they took the bat out of his hand," Norris said of Davis. "There were two strikes, but a guy like that who can change the ballgame with one swing of the bat, you'd think that they'd go ahead and let him swing with two strikes, but I'll let them run."

Norris said Avery tested him on the base paths plenty of times in the Minors.

"I don't know what the score is, but it's 1-0 up here," Norris said.

A's manager Bob Melvin said Norris has had a few stretches where he's been "out of rhythm a little bit" throwing as he's adjusted to sharing time behind the plate. But he showed off his gun and his accuracy Friday night.

"He has the ability to be an all-around catcher," Melvin said. "He's going to receive, he's going to block and throw, and he's definitely going to hit. He's got a chance to be one of the few catchers, like a Wieters, an all-around guy that has the ability to do everything."