Walk-off shot of Coco lifts A's in 12th inning
Oakland forces extras with RBI triples from Cespedes, Fuld
OAKLAND -- An otherwise rough season-opening week just got a whole lot better for the A's.
Having already endured a rainout, a split doubleheader and two disheartening losses in their first three games, the baseball gods of course sent the A's to extra innings on Thursday night at the O.co Coliseum.
Because, why not?
But the club responded in true A's fashion, walking off against the Mariners on Coco Crisp's leadoff home run in the 12th inning for a 3-2 victory, after triples from Sam Fuld and Yoenis Cespedes had brought them from behind.
It was the A's 30th inning played in the past 35 hours.
"We play a day-nighter, and then today felt almost like a doubleheader, so it was nice to squeak that one out," said manager Bob 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 A's walked their way on base most of the night, drawing 10 free passes against seven Mariners pitchers without cashing in on many an opportunity. Crisp did it three times, and in his sixth plate appearance of the night, decided to go with a different approach.
"My thought process was go up and get a pitch as hard as you can swing at and actually swing as hard as you can," said Crisp. "Probably nine times out of 10 I strike out with that approach."
The veteran outfielder fouled off the first pitch he saw from Hector Noesi, a 91-mph fastball.
"I was swinging as hard as I could," he said. "That's when I stepped out. I was going to go back to my normal approach. Then I was like, 'Nah, I'm just gonna let it fly again.'"
That he did, sending the 93-mph heater over the yellow line in right field for his first career walk-off home run and the A's 24th walk-off victory since the start of 2012.
"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 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."
It was the first walk-off homer from an A's leadoff man since Eric Byrnes did it in 2004, and for Crisp, it was his sixth career game-ending RBI -- and quite the turnaround of events for the A's, who began the day in the worst of ways.
Making his career debut at first base, Alberto Callaspo watched the first ball in play from leadoff man Abraham Almonte go right through his legs. Second baseman Nick Punto got to it at the edge of the grass, but his wide throw not only resulted in a second error but got away from Callaspo and allowed Almonte to reach second base and later score an unearned run off Jesse Chavez.
Chavez did his job in his first start of the season, which was also his first since 2012 and only the third of his career. Oakland's right-hander, part of a patchwork rotation built by the Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin-less A's, allowed the Mariners just one other run on the night in six innings.
The A's bullpen proceeded to fire six shutout innings, allowing just one hit along the way.
"That was amazing what they did," said Chavez. "This all just shows what we're made of. After the long day yesterday, to come back and play extra innings today -- we never gave up, and I think that's kind of our character. No matter how long the day is, no matter how long the game is, we're still going to go out there and give it our all."
Oakland didn't get a hit off southpaw Roenis Elias, who was making his big league debut, until the fifth inning, when Punto reached on a two-out single, his first hit with the A's. That's when Fuld lined one to center field past a diving Almonte and sped around the bases, only to be tagged within a foot of home plate, missing out on an inside-the-park home run.
Cespedes' triple with two outs in the eighth tied the game, leading to the extra-inning dramatics that handed Seattle its first loss of the year.
"These are the games we want to win, for sure," said Fuld. "You play that long and grind it for a couple days at the beginning, you definitely want to be at the winning end. You always do, but it's definitely a lot sweeter when you win a game like this, and it's a lot more painful when you lose a game like this."