The last game of an amazing first half ended in disappointing fashion for the Boston Red Sox: with a 3-2 walkoff loss to the Oakland Athletics.
The Sox entered into this game having already done what needed to be done on their West Coast road trip, which was good because there wasn't much reason to hope for big things from Brandon Workman making his first major league start on the mound.
Somehow, though, Workman would prove to be the driving force behind the Red Sox today in a way nobody could have expected. The Athletics went in order in the first, then in the second, then in the third. Once through the order, Workman had allowed not a man to reach base, and while he surrendered a walk to John Jaso in the fourth, a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play kept him from having to go over the minimum four innings into the game. The fifth and sixth provided another pair of 1-2-3 frames, and the no-no rumblings were well underway.
Bartolo Colon had not been nearly so good in the first five innings, but you wouldn't have known it by looking at the run totals. Unfortunately, tonight was just one of those nights. The Red Sox were spraying line drives all over the place, but never finding the ground. A leadoff double for Jonny Gomes in the second was wasted when Mike Carp's rocket found Jed Lowrie at short and Brock Holt shot a very long fly ball to the deepest part of the park. Josh Reddick barely had to move to retire Ellsbury in the third, David Ortiz missed a double to left by about a foot in the fourth. For five straight innings Bartolo Colon was battered, but never bruised.
That would finally change in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava, and Dustin Pedroia put three singles together to score a run, and again in the seventh when Brock Holt singled Mike Carp home after a leadoff double to make it 2-0, Red Sox.
Unfortunately, Colon was not the only pitcher whose fortunes would change. Brandon Workman's no-hit hopes ended suddenly in the first at bat of the seventh, when Coco Crisp hit a ground ball up the middle. Dustin Pedroia made a diving play to keep the ball from finding the outfield, but with Crisp's speed, there was no getting him out. More convincing and far more damaging was the hit that would follow. Workman's 102nd pitch of the day was a fastball pumped in to Josh Donaldson at 90 miles per hour, and Donaldson simply launched it. The ball found the facade well over the center field wall, leaving Donaldson with a massive game-tying homer.
The tie would stick around for long enough to extend the first half of the season, with neither team mounting a significant offensive in the eighth, ninth, or even tenth innings. Finally, though, the eleventh would prove the difference. And unfortunately the loss would fall on the shoulders of Boston's newest pitcher in Matt Thornton. To Thornton's credit, he did what he should have been expected to, getting two outs against the two lefties he faced. Against the right-handed hitters, though, he was as sketchy as advertised, walking both Chris Young and Derek Norris to put the winning runner in scoring position.
Even then, though, it required another bit of luck going against the Red Sox to make the difference. And in the end, it was Josh Donaldson who did the job again. While Thornton got the weak contact he might have hoped for, its placement was as perfect--much as the placement on all of Boston's big swings earlier in the game had not be. The blooper fell into right field, and there was no chance to catch Chris Young at home, leaving the Athletics the winners at the end of the day.