DonaldsonWhat a fitting way for the Oakland Athletics to finish off their best first half since 1990.

Bartolo Colon had an all-star performance and Josh Donaldson drove in all three runs for the A’s as they downed the Boston Red Sox 3-2 in 11 innings on Sunday afternoon at O.Co Coliseum.

The Red Sox got on the board first when Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia all singled off Colon in the top of the sixth to make it 1-0 Boston. The lead was extended to 2-0 in the seventh when Brock Holt smoked an opposite field base hit to drive in Mike Carp who had doubled to lead off the frame.

In the meantime, Brandon Workman was spinning  a no-hitter through six full innings and Oakland’s offense really hadn’t hit a ball hard all afternoon. The first hit for the A’s came off the bat of Coco Crisp who led off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single to second. Pedroia made a terrific diving stop on a ground ball up the middle, but Crisp was hustling the whole way down the line and was able to beat the throw by a couple steps. John Jaso followed the hit with a pop out to bring up Josh Donaldson.

If you’ve been following Oakland this season, it was almost a foregone conclusion what happened next. The A’s all-star caliber third baseman stepped in with a chance to tie the game, and brought the rain in a big, big way. Donaldson took a 3-2 fastball from Workman and crushed it to deep left center field, banging it off the facing below the luxury suites. ESPN measured the home run at 438 feet.

A game-tying home run in the seventh inning of the rubber game of a series against the American League’s best team– just another day in the life of Superman Josh Donaldson.

The A’s third baseman wasn’t done just yet. The teams exchanged scoreless eighth, ninth and 10th innings to push it to the 11th. Ryan Cook was on to pitch for the A’s and loaded the bases for Holt with two away but struck him out on a change up on the outer half.

In the bottom of the 11th Chris Young led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Eric Sogard. Derek Norris walked with two outs in front of Donaldson to set the stage for a dramatic conclusion to the first half, and Donaldson didn’t disappoint.

After taking a ball to open the at-bat, the right hander looped a base hit over the head of Pedroia and in front of Nava to score Young and bring the A’s the 3-2 victory. A walk-off win off the bat of the All-Star snub against the team with the best record in the American League. Oh, and that All-Star snub drove in all three runs for Oakland. Ho-hum.

There’s not a better script to write for this series for the A’s. They got contributions from everyone in all three games, and then their best player came to the rescue to secure a win in the final game of the first half.

The Green and Gold had to answer the bell with two series against two of Major League Baseball’s best teams and they won four of six against Pittsburgh and Boston, and played some not so great baseball in those games.

If Oakland has even a fraction of the second half they had in 2012, this team will be primed for a magical playoff run. There are some wrinkles to iron out for sure with room to improve, but the way this team is playing for the last calendar year, it’s tough to see them falling apart any time soon.

Be excited A’s fans … this team is special.

Walk-Offs

The A’s are in sole possession of first at the All-Star break for the first time since 1990 (They made it to the World Series that year).

– Josh Donaldson is really good at baseball. He either has or is tied for the team lead in runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, total bases, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

– Oakland is 12-4 when Donaldson drives in two or more runs.

– The A’s have won back-to-back games where they scored three runs. They’re 4-10 now when they score three.

– In one-run games, the Athletics are 18-11

– Oakland opens up the second half with seven games against the Angels and three games against the Astros. If history is any indicator, this team will continue its winning ways early in the second half.

– The A’s are a game back of Boston for the best record in the American League.

– Per Buster Olney– The A’s are 124-72 since June 10, 2012. That’s the best record in Major League Baseball.

– What a first half. See you guys after the break and thanks for reading for the past couple of months. Hopefully the stories stay the same! Go A’s.