After a series full of close calls and near misses, something finally went right for the Oakland Athletics in the ninth inning on Sunday.
The Athletics beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2 on a walk-off homer by rookie catcher Derek Norris, earning the game-changing moment of the week.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning and facing a sweep at the hands of the Giants, Norris came to bat with two on and two out. The rally started with a leadoff single by Yoenis Cespedes and a single by Brandon Inge.
Norris battled with Giants closer Santiago Casilla and sent a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left field for a 4-2 victory – and his first career home run.
Norris was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday and was making just his third big-league start. He got his first major-league hit and RBI on Saturday and topped it with the homer on Sunday.
"It's something I'll never forget," Norris said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything.
"It's a little surreal, but when I got hit in the ribs a couple of times, it kicked in," Norris said. "Then when I got a pie in the face, it really set in."
His homer was a fitting end to a dramatic series between the Bay Area rivals.
On Friday, the Giants trailed 3-1 but rallied for four runs in the ninth inning and held on for a 5-3 win. On Saturday the Giants were cruising going into the ninth leading 9-4. The A's scored four runs but their comeback came up short. On Sunday, they finally got it right.
The A's not only avoided the sweep, they also spoiled Giants' starter Matt Cain's bid for his ninth consecutive victory. It was Casilla's second blown save in 22 chances this season.
The A's had been on a roll before the two loses to the Giants. They won eight of nine before being cooled off in the first two games of the Bay Bridge Series.
Will Middlebrooks has been so good lately he forced the Boston Red Sox to trade a team legend and fan favorite.
The remarkable play of the rookie third baseman made two-time World Series champion Kevin Youkilis expendable. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday for pitcher Zach Stewart and utility player Brent Lillibridge.
Over the last seven days Middlebrooks batted .625, raising his season average from .298 to .326. He hit three home runs, drove in 11 runs and scored six runs.
Middlebrooks and Youkilis had been splitting time at third base but the youngster's emergence meant his bat was needed in the lineup full time. He has RBIs in seven of his last eight games and had a five-game hit streak end in Sunday's 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.