Following a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Indians in the evening version of the split doubleheader Wednesday night, the A’s found themselves in another tough situation Thursday heading into extra innings in another game they should have already had won, were it not for a pair of first inning errors and an unearned run.
This time the outcome would be different though. Coco Crisp, the undisputed veteran leader of the Oakland A’s over the past few seasons, led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a solo-homer, his first of the season and first walk-off homer of his career, to give the A’s their first walk-off win of the season. Of course, there was pie and a Gatorade shower to follow.
“You can tell that first swing he was looking for something he could pull and get up in the air, and I think that was his intent,” said manager Bob Melvin. “That’s tough to do, especially when you are a leadoff guy, but those are the type of swings he was putting on that at-bat.”
“On the first pitch I thought, ‘Let it fly’ and I didn’t get it,” Crisp told reporters after the game. “Then I thought ‘Stop it, go back to the normal swing.’ And then I said, ‘Nah’ and let it fly again.
“I kind of went up there thinking that way. Nine out of 10 times, that’s not going to work.”
Oakland had been playing catch up from the very first batter of the game. Seattle lead off hitter Abraham Almonte reached base on a fielding error by first baseman Alberto Callaspo and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Nick Punto. Just like that, one batter, two errors, two bases. Almonte advanced to third on a fly-out by Brad Miller and then scored on a ground out by Robinson Cano, 1-0 Seattle on an unearned run, and what should have been a 1-2-3 inning for A’s starter Jesse Chavez.
It was Almonte again in the fifth inning who got the scoring going for the Mariners when he singled home Logan Morrison to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.
The A’s got themselves on the scoreboard in their half of the fifth inning when Punto scored on a Sam Fuld triple. The play resulted in a review because of a collision at home plate, but the call on the field was upheld and Punto was called safe.
Another triple, this time by Yoenis Cespedes, in the bottom of the 8th inning scored Crisp and tied the score up at 2-2. That would be all the scoring until Crisp came through in the bottom of the 12th on his 0-1 count walk-off shot.
Making his first start since 2012 and just the third start of his career, Jesse Chavez pitched very well, lasting six innings, allowing two runs (just one earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out four Mariners batters.
Fernando Abad and Sean Doolittle each pitched two scoreless innings and Luke Gregerson and Drew Pomeranz tossed a scoreless inning apiece to round out six scoreless relief innings by the bullpen. Pomeranz was credited with his first win of the season.
Roenis Elias was equally impressive for the Mariners, pitching to a line of five innings pitched, one earned run on two hits and three walks, while striking out three in his Major League debut. Tom Wilhelmsen was charged with a blown save for allowing the Cespedes triple in the eighth inning and Hector Noesi earned the loss for allowing Crisp’s homer in the 12th inning.
“It was nice to squeak that one out,” said Melvin, “especially the way the game was going early on. We weren’t getting too many swings, and to come back like that in that fashion, a little bit of will involved today.”
The win improved the A’s record to 2-2 on the season. The same two teams will play again tonight at the Coliseum at 7:05PM on Pet Calendar giveaway day (to the first 10,000 fans).