Derek Norris was stunned by his ninth-inning at-bat Tuesday.
It wasn’t because the A’s catcher homered against Reds’ left-hander Aroldis Chapman, perhaps the hardest-throwing pitcher in the game.
It was because the ball didn’t carry farther than it did. Center fielder Shin-soo Choo went back to the wall in center field and never had a chance for the ball. But the mere fact that Choo felt the need to retreat puzzled Norris.
“to be honest, I thought I got more of that ball that I did,’’ Norris said. “I thought it was going to carry over the berm (behind the wall in center). I thought there was no way Choo was going to get there.
“And then he went back on it. It carried out, which is all that counts, but I thought it went farther, When I’m seeing him go back, I’m thinking `that’s about all I have in the tank, and he’s going back on it.’ ’’
The home run was the eighth of the year for Norris and the only run of the game in a 3-1 loss to Cincinnati. Of the eight homers, he might well remember this one down the road. Chapman throws 101 mph at times, and he’s not easy to take deep. The Norris homer was just the sixth of the year off the Reds’ closer.
“That’s definitely a moment I won’t forget,’’ Norris said. “I know how much success that guy’s had. It’s nice to be able to turn around a pitch that touches 100 mph.’’
Norris suggested that as hard as Chapman throws, he’s not the toughest guy to take over the fence.
“I’ll take velocity over movement,’’ Norris said when describing pitch options. Chapman’s ball doesn’t move much; it’s what’s known as a heavy ball. “You know where the pitch is going to be, and you try not to do too much with it. He’ll supply all the power.’’