Oakland goes into the All-Star Break winning 4 of 6 against Pittsburgh and Boston, the teams setting the pace in each league -- thanks to Donaldson.
The A's were helpless for 6 innings against rookie Brandon Workman in Workman's first major league start. The only A's baserunner through 6? A one-out walk to John Jaso in the 4th, and he was erased in a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out DP. Bartolo Colon matched Workman zero for zero until the Red Sox finally broke through in the 6th. Dustin Pedroia was once again the perpetrator with an RBI single to LF scoring Jacoby Ellsbury.
Colon pitched into the 7th, serving up a leadoff double to Mike Carp, who took 3B on a ground ball. With the LH batting Brock Holt due up and Sean Doolittle ready in the bullpen, Bob Melvin made the decision to stick with Colon and it did not pay off. Holt lined a single over Jed Lowrie to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
That's when the A's, and Donaldson, went to work. Coco Crisp ended Workman's no-hit bid with a leadoff single. Workman retired Jaso and that's when Donaldson launched a 2-run HR to left-center field that fell just short of the luxury suites, dramatically tying the game, sending Workman to the showers, and suddenly putting the game in the hands of the bullpens.
Doolittle worked a scoreless 8th, and Grant Balfour was dominant in the 9th, striking out the side. Balfour has been named to the All-Star team, deservedly so. Meanwhile, Boston turned to closer Koji Uehara in the bottom of the 9th and he was so efficient that after Ryan Cook pitched a scoreless top of the 10th, Uehara was sent out for a second inning in the bottom of the 10th. Yoenis Cespedes lead off with an infield hit and was awarded 2B, despite much protestation from Red Sox manager John Farrell, when Jose Iglasias' errant throw went "in or about the top step of the dugout". However, Josh Reddick struck out and then Cespedes was thrown out trying to steal 3B. Nate Freiman bounced out and we went on into the 11th.
The top of the 11th was fun in a "root canal gone awry" kind of way. Against Cook, Pedroia flew out on the first pitch, but David Ortiz walked on the next 4. Napoli struck out looking but Mike Carp walked. Then on his first pitch, Cook hit Ryan Lavarnway with an "oopsie backup slider" to load the bases. Up stepped Brock Holt, who sounds like a comic strip hero. Two fastballs and a perfectly located changeup later, Holt was out on strikes.
Chris Young pinch hit and walked to lead off against LHP Matt Thornton, making his Red Sox debut. Eric Sogard sacrificed Young to 2B, but Coco Crisp bounced to 3B for the second out. Derek Norris walked, and up stepped Josh Donaldson. First pitch, Donaldson blooped one to RF but in the box score it was a searing line drive, so he may as well tell it that way to his grandchildren someday. The important thing is that it fell between Pedroia and Daniel Nava and Young scored.
It's unclear which happened first, Young touching home plate or Josh Reddick grabbing the pie from the clubhouse. All we know for sure is that both occurred. Josh Donaldson will not play in the All-Star game, nor will he be part of the festivities. But did he impact the first half of the season? Just ask every team who has to deal with playing the Oakland A's. That's the first place Oakland A's, by 2 full games -- winners of 56 games, winners of 6 consecutive series, connoisseurs of pie.