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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Red Sox Lose 3-2 In 11 innings To A's In 1st Half Finale But There Is Plenty To Be Excited About

Technically we're well past the halfway point of the 2013 MLB regular season but this afternoon in Oakland represented the unofficial end of the first half as the A's (56-39 overall, 30-15 home) snuck away with a 3-2 win in 11 innings over the Red Sox (58-39 overall, 27-23 away) thanks to Josh Donaldson's walk-off bloop single. Despite losing the series to the A's (2-1), Boston only needs to go 32-33 after the All-Star break to reach 90 wins which is a good marker for possible playoff squads.

With the most wins in MLB, Boston is up 2.5 games on Tampa Bay and 4.5 games on Baltimore for first place in the American League East. Nobody expected them to play this well so far and I mean absolutely nobody. Losing the final two contests in Oakland and scoring a grand total of two runs in those games means that the Red Sox hit the All-Star break at the perfect time.

In his first MLB start, Brandon Workman had a no-hit bid ended in the top of the seventh and no outs when Coco Crisp legged out an infield single. Workman's day was over soon after that but he should be proud of what he accomplished: 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 hits, 5 strikeouts and 1 walk. Former Red Sox legend Bartolo Colon (6.1 IP, 2 ER, 8 hits, 4 strikeouts) was nearly as sharp which is impressive since the 2013 All-Star must have been daydreaming about all the food he'll throw down in New York this week.

Boston was 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and they left nine runners on base so it's not hard to figure out why they lost. Jacoby Ellsbury (3 for 5, run) wrapped up an excellent (minus the vanishing power) first half with another three-hit game. Dustin Pedroia (2 hits, double, walk) put the Red Sox up 1-0 with an RBI single in the sixth and Brock Holt made it 2-0 with an RBI single of his own in the seventh.

The A's only managed five hits as a team with Donaldson providing all the thunder: he tied it with a two-run bomb (438 feet) to dead center off Workman in the seventh.

Fittingly, the Red Sox bullpen was busy. Craig Breslow got five outs and Koji Uehara pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Matt Thornton's (0-4) Red Sox debut was not a memorable one, at least for the right reasons, as he walked two and allowed Donaldson's game-winning single.

Sean Doolittle got five outs for Oakland then Grant Balfour struck out the side in the ninth. Ryan Cook (2-2) was shaky but he ended up with two scoreless innings after striking out Holt (looking) to end the Top of the 11th with the bases loaded.

I wouldn't say this about many teams in MLB but the Red Sox definitely earned a four day break. Clay Buchholz (still on the DL), David Ortiz and Pedroia head to New York for the All-Star Game at Citi Field while the rest of the team gets a short vacation.

Boston just survived a 10-game road trip (5-5) so when they return to action on Friday, it'll be the start of two series at Fenway Park: three vs. Yankees (51-44 overall, 4th in AL East) and four vs. Rays. Their next home game isn't until July 26 at Baltimore which is only five days before the trade deadline.

Enjoy your time away from baseball (I'm not counting the silly Home Run Derby and All-Star game) although these next four days have to be the worst in the sports calendar every single year with so little going on of any importance.

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