OAKLAND, Calif. — A lot of the feel-good that surfaced from three victories in Anaheim slipped away Thursday from the Mariners in a 3-2 loss to Oakland in 12 innings.
The end came when Hector Noesi served up a walk-off homer to Coco Crisp after 4 hours and 2 minutes packed with frustration at the O.co Coliseum.
“(The pitch) was probably a little bit more up than we wanted,” catcher Mike Zunino admitted. “Coco is just a great hitter looking for a fastball in that count. He was able to get a little extension to get the ball up in the air.”
A review confirmed the ball cleared the right-field wall.
“I was just going up there to swing as hard as I could,” Crisp said. “Probably nine times out of 10, I end up with a strikeout with that approach. Tonight was that one time that it ended up working out.”
Drew Pomeranz, 1-0, got the victory after working a scoreless 12th inning. Noesi, 0-1, was the seventh pitcher used by manager Lloyd McClendon.
Both teams struggled with umpire Sean Barber’s strike zone, but the Mariners never found a comfort zone — and it cost them; they issued 10 walks.
Further, an attack that scored 26 runs in sweeping the Angels managed just six hits. Even so, they had a 2-0 lead behind lefty Roenis Elias in his big-league debut.
It wasn’t enough.
Charlie Furbush carried a 2-1 lead into the eighth but issued a leadoff walk to Crisp. In came Tom Wilhelmsen who, after Crisp stole second, completed a four-pitch walk to Josh Donaldson.
Wilhelmsen had a chance to escape when Josh Reddick grounded into a double play, but Yoenis Cespedes tied the game by ripping a triple into the right-center gap.
Before all that, much of the action centered on rookie Abraham Almonte.
He scored the game’s first run after forcing A’s second baseman Nick Punto into a first-inning throwing error. And Almonte’s RBI single in the fifth extended the Mariners’ lead to 2-0.
But Almonte’s base-running error torpedoed the chance for a bigger fifth inning, and his decision to attempt a diving two-out catch later in the inning on Sam Fuld’s sinking liner nearly proved disastrous.
“I was trying to play it on a one hop,” Almonte said, “but at the last second, I saw it start to sink and move away from me. If that ball doesn’t sink on me, I think I get it.”
One run scored on the play as the ball sped toward the wall. Only a well-executed relay from right fielder Logan Morrison to second baseman Robinson Cano to Zunino prevented Fuld from circling the bases.
Even then, the play at the plate required video confirmation for a possible violation of the collision rule at the plate. That extra delay prompted McClendon to pull Elias before the next inning.
Oakland’s Jesse Chavez, in his first start since 2012, pitched through the sixth; he have up just one earned run and five hits. The Mariners managed only one hit in six innings against four A’s relievers.
Elias allowed one run and two hits in five innings. He walked three, all in the first two innings when he ran deep counts on nearly every hitter.
“It took a little time (to figure out the strike zone),” he said. “There were a few pitches there that in the minor leagues are strikes. Not here. The umpire had the strike zone a little tight.”
Elias didn’t allow a hit until Punto’s two-out single in the fifth, which came after a borderline 2-2 pitch. Zunino was even moving toward the dugout when Barber called it a ball.
“I sincerely thought it was a strike,” Elias said. “The umpire didn’t call it a strike. If I had gotten that call, I would have gotten out of the frame without giving up a run.”
Instead, Punto yanked the next pitch into left. Then Fuld sent his twisting liner into center…and the game began slipping away from the Mariners.