Ken Korach might have said it best during the 10th inning last night: "If you walk nine batters, you should lose the game."
Lo and behold, the Mariners ended up walking 10 batters, and they lost. The amount of time it took to get there may have been surprising — the A's have now played 30 innings of baseball in two days — but the end result sent the remaining few fans at the Coliseum home happy after three innings of bonus baseball, with Coco Crisp delivering a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th, giving Oakland a 3-2 win.
Tonight's game got off to the least auspicious of starts — in the opening sequence of his big-league debut at first base, Alberto Callaspo completely muffed an Abraham Almonte grounder, and Almonte subsequently advanced to second base on a throwing error from Nick Punto, touted as one of Oakland's best defensive players. Almonte later scored on Robinson Cano's 4-3 groundout, spotting Seattle a 1-0 lead even though Jesse Chavez had effectively retired the side in order.
The Mariners made it 2-0 in the 5th on an Almonte single that scored Logan Morrison, but that was all the leeway they'd get from Chavez, who turned in the third consecutive quality start from a starting pitcher who's actually in Oakland's rotation.
The A's worked many a base on balls in their first four turns at the plate but couldn't get much going against Seattle rookie Roenis Elias, who was very impressive in his major-league debut. But that changed in the bottom of the 5th when Sam Fuld tripled on a line drive to right field that Almonte dived for and missed completely, scoring Nick Punto. Cano threw out Fuld as he tried for the inside-the-park home run, a call upheld after a replay to determine whether Seattle catcher Mike Zunino gave Fuld the appropriate lane.
A few uneventful innings bring us to the bottom of the 8th, when Charlie Furbush issued a walk to Crisp to begin the frame, prompting Lloyd McClendon to quickly yank him in favor of a righty, Tom Wilhelmsen. Crisp quickly stole second base, but it didn't matter once Donaldson followed in his center fielder's footsteps, earning a free pass to set up Jed Lowrie with two runners on base and none out.
Lowrie didn't capitalize, quickly grounding into a 4-6-3 double play, advancing Crisp to third in the process. But Cespedes certainly did, going the other way with Wilhelmsen's first pitch and hitting a line drive that scooted all the way to the wall in right-center field, tying the game at 2 and putting the go-ahead run 90 feet away.
John Jaso, pinch-hitting for Derek Norris, worked yet another walk. With nobody warming up in Seattle's bullpen, Bob Melvin had an opportunity to give Brandon Moss the platoon advantage, using his third third baseman of the night. But Moss couldn't capitalize, and the game went into extra-inning purgatory.
After six near-perfect innings from the A's bullpen — two each from Fernando Abad and Sean Doolittle with a little help later on from Luke Gregerson and Drew Pomeranz — and Oakland's inability to break through offensively left the game tied going into the bottom of the 12th.
That's when things escalated quickly. With Hector Noesi pitching, Coco went deep to right field, and that quickly, the game was over. The A's wound up with a 3-2 win and a 2-2 record. The teams will do battle again tomorrow night at 7:05pm at the Coliseum, with Dan Straily taking on Chris Young (no, not that Chris Young). Until then, enjoy the first pie of the year — hopefully it's the first of many.