OAKLAND -- One thing about Coco Crisp’s power surge last year when he hit a career-high 22 home runs, A’s manager Bob Melvin said, was that "usually they were all within about 10 feet of each other in right field, which means he knows his swing very well."
When Crisp came up in the 12th inning Thursday and hooked the first pitch he saw from Hector Noesi foul, Melvin said "you could tell he was looking for something he could pull and get up in the air." While Crisp was early on the first opportunity, he didn’t miss the second. His home run on Noesi’s 0-1 pitch -- into the bleachers in right field -- gave the A’s a 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Crisp said he was "kind of" thinking home run as he led off the 12th. "I was going to let it fly," he said. After fouling off the first pitch, he thought about dialing back his approach. "Then I was like, naw, I’m just going to let it fly again," Crisp said. "And I just happened to catch it good enough."
It’s not an approach Crisp takes to the plate often, but in this case, "My thought process was just go up there and get a pitch you can swing as hard as you can at, and actually swing as hard as you can.
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"Probably nine times out of ten, I end up striking out with that approach. Tonight was the one time that it ended up working out."
The result was Crisp’s first career walk-off home run and his sixth career walk-off RBI. And, of course, a celebratory pie in the face from Josh Reddick -- the A’s first of the year -- followed by a water cooler being dumped over his head, also courtesy of Reddick.
"Yeah, of course," Crisp said when asked if he enjoyed the pie. "I mean, who wouldn’t? Obviously it’s a positive thing. The water’s a positive thing, too, but on a cold night like this it’s a little chilly."
The 12-inning win lasted 4 hours and 2 minutes, a day after the A’s played a day-night doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. That’s 30 innings of baseball over the past two days. While Crisp said that didn’t add much to the win -- "Not to me personally" --Melvin said it did "a little bit" for him.
"A little bit of will involved today," Melvin said.
Crisp also scored the tying run in the eighth on a Yoenis Cespedes triple after it looked like the A’s might waste a great scoring opportunity. Crisp and Josh Donaldson drew back-to-back walks leading off the eighth with the A’s down 2-1, but Tom Wilhelmsen got Jed Lowrie to hit into a 4-6-3 double play, moving Crisp to third.
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Cespedes, though, laced a ball over Robinson Cano’s head into right-center field to score Crisp and finally take advantage of a series of walks issued by Mariners pitchers. The A’s drew 10 walks on the night; Crisp was the only one to score. They’d trailed all game up to that point.
"These are always the fun victories," Crisp said. "Tomorrow this game only matters in the stat book. I’m glad it’s in the win column."
* The unsung heroes tonight: relievers Fernando Abad, Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson and Drew Pomeranz, who combined to throw six scoreless innings while allowing two baserunners.
Abad and Doolittle both threw two innings, with Doolittle recording maybe the most dramatic out in the 10th. With Abraham Almonte on second and Robinson Cano at the plate with two outs, Doolittle threw a fastball past Cano for a swinging third strike.
Melvin had just visited the mound and said he told Doolittle: "Don’t let (Cano) get the bat on the ball. He didn’t really listen to me. He threw a fastball to him right after that. But he struck him out."
The sheer number of innings the past two days might leave the A’s a little shorthanded in the bullpen for Friday’s game. But Melvin pointed out he didn’t use Evan Scribner, Dan Otero or closer Jim Johnson in this one, "So we have some guys."
One effect of the bullpen’s performance: It trapped starter Jesse Chavez in the clubhouse for the final six innings. "Pitchers, we have our little rituals," said Chavez, who had gone inside after finishing his outing. "I didn’t want to leave with the way the bullpen was throwing. That was fun to watch."
* Chavez wasn’t bad, either, allowing two runs -- one earned -- in six innings in his first start for the A’s. The unearned run came in the first inning, when Alberto Callaspo -- in his first major-league game at first base -- let the first ball to him roll through his legs into right field. Nick Punto’s throw in to Chavez then got away, allowing Abraham Almonte to go to second, and Almonte later scored on a Cano groundout.
After that, Chavez didn’t allow a run until the fifth, when Logan Morrison and Dustin Ackley led off with back-to-back singles and Morrison scored on a one-out single by Almonte.
"I thought he was terrific," Melvin said. "He’s pitched as consistently throughout the spring and to this point as anybody has for us. So it didn’t surprise us."
Chavez said his outing was "OK. I kind of nibbled a little bit more than I should have, which caused me to throw more pitches as we got the middle of the game. I’m going to work on for next time going out later in the ballgame to where we don’t have to get six innings out of the bullpen."
Then again, they did play 12.
* For a game in which the A’s didn’t have a hit until the fifth against a guy making his major-league debut in Mariners left-hander Roenis Elias, things certainly got interesting quickly. That first hit was a single by Nick Punto, one pitch after a close 2-2 curveball that looked so much like strike three that both Elias and catcher Mike Zunino were on their way to the visiting dugout before having to turn around.
After Punto’s hit, Sam Fuld hit a sinking liner to center that Almonte dove for but missed. The ball rolled past him to the wall, and as Logan Morrison came over from right field to get it, third-base coach Mike Gallego waved Fuld around for an attempt at an inside-the-park home run. A perfect relay from Cano, though, nailed Fuld.
It was Fuld’s second triple in as many nights, after he had four in spring training. As for previous inside-the-parkers? "I don’t think I’ve ever had one," he said. "I think that was my opportunity."
Fuld said he knew once the ball got past Almonte that Gallego might send him, and there was "no hesitation at any point."
"I think every now and then we run a triple in spring training or go first to home, so I guess we’re kind of prepared for that 270-foot run," he said with a grin. "But the 360, that got me."
Melvin came out to argue the call briefly, and a replay review ensued, though it was later announced the review was initiated by umpires to see if Zunino had illegally blocked the plate. The out call stood.
Still, it was part of another good night for Fuld, who also made a sliding catch to end the sixth inning in left field that likely saved two runs. Fuld ostensibly is here just until Craig Gentry is ready to come off the DL and claim the fourth outfield spot, but he’s had some electric moments the past two nights. Asked if Fuld might be complicating that decision at all, Melvin said: "You know what, we just play with what we have right here until we have to make a decision."
Fuld also brushed off the topic. "Just try to make the most of your opportunities, and you can only control so much," he said. "Right now all I control is how I play on the field."
* A couple items from the A’s post-game notes: With a stolen base tonight, Crisp is one away from tying Reggie Jackson for fifth in Oakland A’s history. Also, Josh Donaldson is hitless in his last 14 at-bats after starting the season 2-for-4.
* Set-up man Ryan Cook, who’s eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, made a rehab appearance with High-A Stockton tonight and threw one scoreless inning.
* The pitching matchup for Friday is right-hander Dan Straily against the Mariners’ right-hander Chris Young. If you’re not used to going this far into a season without seeing the A’s face Felix Hernandez, don’t worry. He pitches Saturday.