OAKLAND — For a while Sunday, the Athletics likely would have settled for a base runner of any kind, let alone a base hit. Snatching a victory away from the Boston Red Sox seemed almost unfathomable.
Yet the Athletics tied the game in the seventh inning on a two-run homer by Josh Donaldson, two batters after Coco Crisp notched the Athletics' first hit of the game, and then won the game, 3-2, in the 11th on a Donaldson run-scoring single.
Athletics manager Bob Melvin called it "apropos" that Donaldson provided the punctuation mark on the first half of the season given how well Donaldson played the first 95 games.
Those in the Athletics' organization, as well as many people across the league, felt as if Donaldson deserved to be a part of the American League All-Star team.
Look no further than what Donaldson does in crucial situations, Melvin said, to understand his value.
"He's a fighter," Melvin said. "He's got that competitive bone. In situations that are big, he's not scared of them, he enjoys them. He looks forward to them. You can just see, there's added focus, there's desire and attention to what he's doing. It's been pretty impressive to watch."
Sean Doolittle was one of three relievers who shut down the Red Sox after they jumped to a 2-0 lead.
Doolittle said Donaldson has been so consistent this season that the Athletics almost take it for granted that he's going to come through in clutch situations.
The same can be said of an Athletics team that won 56 games before the All-Star Game, matching the franchise record. That places them two games clear of the Texas Rangers in the American League West at the break.
The last time the Athletics were in sole possession of first place in the AL West at the break was in 1990. By the way, that's the last time the Athletics advanced to the World Series.
Sunday's game is the type Oakland fans are accustomed to. It might take longer for others to realize that the Athletics aren't a one-year wonder.
When the Athletics play top-tier teams such as the Reds, Cardinals, Pirates and Red Sox, they view it as a chance to open more eyes.
"When we get an opportunity to play a good team ... we're going out there trying to send a message that we are a really good team and that we're for real," Donaldson said.
Good teams find a way to win games. It's what the Athletics do well, even when everything isn't going their way, even against the team with the best record in the American League.
That was the case Sunday, with Red Sox rookie Brandon Workman holding the Athletics hitless for six innings and out-dueling Athletics ace Bartolo Colon until the seventh.
Finally, the Athletics broke through, with Donaldson hitting a ball as well as he can, by his estimation, for a game-tying home run that energized the Athletics and the crowd.
His game-winning hit in the 11th sent the fans into a frenzy and the Athletics into the break on a high.
"That's huge," Doolittle said. "One thing our guys do really well is making adjustments and giving us a chance to win the game later on. A walk-off is one thing, but to win against a team like that that's been playing so well, that's big for us."
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