Moss a first baseman, but still armed and able in outfield

After catching a strong throw from Brandon Moss, Derek Norris tagged Orioles Nick Markasis at plate to extend Friday's game to 11th inning, when A's won, 4-3

After catching a strong throw from Brandon Moss, Derek Norris tagged Orioles Nick Markasis at plate to extend Friday’s game to 11th inning, when A’s won, 4-3

On the All-Star ballot, Brandon Moss is listed as a designated hitter.

On the A’s lineup card most days, Moss is listed as a first baseman.

So it’s easy to forget that Moss began his baseball life as an outfielder.

The Baltimore Orioles won’t soon forget, not after Friday night, when Moss threw a bullet from right field to the plate, enabling Derek Norris to tag out the sliding Nick Markakis, thereby denying the Orioles a 10th inning win.

The A’s went on to win the game 4-3 in the 11th, when Moss, as he does from time to time, struck out.

“I’m not a great outfielder as far as range and stuff,’’ Moss said. “But people don’t remember that I have a real good arm. That’s really my only defensive tool, but I’ve always had a real good arm. And when you don’t play the outfield a lot, and you play first base, people don’t remember.’’

A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has a powerful arm himself, said Moss doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone when it comes to throwing.

“I’ve said it before, when he’s in the infield, he’s got the best arm of any infielder we have,’’ Donaldson said. “He really stuck that throw.’’

Donaldson got no argument from Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado, with whom he was otherwise at odds Friday night.

“It was all there. We had (the win) from the get-go,’’ Machado said. “Great throw by Moss. You can’t get any better than that.’’

The throw, as it happens was the easy part. Getting to the ball in time to make the throw meaningful was a more difficult proposition.

“I didn’t know if he’d get to the ball soon enough,’’ center fielder Craig Gentry said. Gentry was on the bench by the 11th inning, but he played most of the game and was familiar with the conditions.

“I knew he had the arm, but the grass kills the ball here,’’ Gentry said, referring to the lush outfield grass that slows ground balls. “I didn’t know if he was going to be able to get there in time.

“Man that was a clutch throw right there, perfect. He was charging in hard and was able to field it cleanly and get a good throw in so in those circumstances, it’s pretty tough to do. It’s over if he doesn’t. That’s the play of the game for sure.’’

Moss said he factored the heavy grass into the equation from the start, when Adam Jones was still in the batter’s box and Markakis was on second base.

“You’ve got to go get it, especially here,’’ Moss said. “The grass is so thick. You could just tell in batting practice; balls would just stop. So I had it in mind that if they hit it on the ground, I’d just go after it, regardless.

“As soon as I fielded it, I was almost 100 percent that I was going to throw him out as long as something didn’t happen with the ball like deflect off the tip of (Norris’s) glove. Once I fielded it I knew that I was going to have enough on the throw to throw him out.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.