Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

It’s here, folks. Don’t blink because you may miss the rest of the season.

The final game before the All-Star Break has arrived and the Boston Red Sox (58-38) look to finish the first portion of the season a high note. They’ve split the first two games with the Oakland Athletics (55-39), taking the first 4-2 and losing the second 3-0. No matter what, the Sox will head into the break with the best record in the American League and on top of the AL East by no less than 2.5 games.

Rookie Brandon Workman gets his first Major League start today. The big right-hander pitched two innings of relief in Seattle, allowing three runs on four hits with four strikeouts. Workman’s first outing came with the Sox leading 9-1 at that point in the game, so there surely were some nerves – as there will be today – and he knew he had nothing to lose. It was more of a “get the first one out of the way” scenario for Workman. Last year, he was the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year, compiling an 8-2 record with a 3.21 ERA split between Portland and Pawtucket. We’ll see what the rookie can do, however, in an important spot start.

Here is the Red Sox lineup for this afternoon’s game (first pitch – 4:05 pm EDT):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Nava, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Gomes, LF
6. Carp, 1B
7. Lavarnway, C
8. Holt, 3B
9. Iglesias, SS

Workman, P

All-Star Bartolo Colon goes for the A’s in his final appearance before the All-Star Game. Colon is 12-3 with a 2.69 ERA and has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for the past two seasons, albeit he was suspended last season for failing a drug test. He has pitched 11 straight quality starts and is 9-1 in his last 10 games.

Headin’ to the Big Apple
After the game, the Red Sox players, coaches and staff will likely depart from each other for a few days, most of them headed to prime vacation spots with their families. Three Red Sox, though, will fly cross-country to New York City for the All-Star Game at Citi Field. David Ortiz will start at DH for the AL squad while Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz also made the team as reserves. Pedroia is sure to see action at second base. Buchholz won’t be pitching, as he is rehabbing from his neck injury. … The A’s were awarded just one All-Star selection and that is today’s starter Colon. Many A’s players and fans have voiced their opinions regarding that, and rightfully so. After all, the second best team in the AL has one All-Star.

Bailey’s resurgence a plus
Andrew Bailey has had his share of troubles with the Red Sox in just under two seasons (most of which has been spent on the DL). He already has five blown saves this season and has allowed seven home runs and 12 earned runs in just over 28 innings. However, his July outings have been much improved. After posting a 10.13 ERA in June, Bailey has bounced back with four scoreless outings (5.1 IP) in July. With a bullpen needing as much help as it can get, it’s nice to have a dependable late-innings pitcher to so that guys like Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa aren’t wearing down as the season goes on from pitching too many innings every night.

20 before the break
A win today would give the Red Sox their 20th series victory this season, equaling the total from 2012. This is the 30th series of the season, so it would also mean a .667 win percentage (20-of-30).

Let us know what you think about today’s game by commenting below.

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As always, give me a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead

Ben Whitehead 7/14/2013 02:31:00 PM Edit
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