The 40-year-old Bartolo Colon has been sensational in his 16th big league campaign.
He appears to be just as surprised as the rest of us.
Colon (12-3, 2.69 ERA) has been especially good over his last 10 starts, going 9-1 with a 1.48 ERA to climb within one win of tying Matt Moore and Max Scherzer for the most in the majors. He received his third All-Star nod, with the previous two coming in 1998 and 2005.
“I’ve never had a year like this,” Colon, who also won the AL Cy Young Award in 2005, told MLB’s official website. “I believe this year is my best year. It was always in my thoughts, but I never imagined having the kind of numbers that I do right now before the All-Star break.”
Third in the AL in ERA, Colon outpitched fellow All-Star Jeff Locke in Monday’s 2-1 win at Pittsburgh. The right-hander allowed one run and seven hits in seven innings.
“He probably has one of the best personalities I’ve ever played with,” center fielder Coco Crisp said. “He just goes about his day and does the best he can and doesn’t let too many things bother him. He’s been doing good for us the whole year and is fun to play behind.”
Colon, Oakland’s lone All-Star representative, still has a chance to pitch in Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic despite starting Sunday.
“As an organization, based on his age and where we are with him and how much we lean on him, that we would like him to get the time off,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Pitching on Sunday, you look at it and say, ‘Is that prudent?’ But we’ll leave it up to him. It’s his decision.”
Colon went the distance in a rain-shortened 13-0 win at Boston on April 23, striking out seven over seven innings of three-hit ball. He is 1-1 with a 1.90 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox since 2011.
After taking Friday’s opener 4-2, the Red Sox (58-38) saw their four-game winning streak snapped Saturday with a 3-0 defeat. They couldn’t come through against A.J. Griffin who threw eight innings before Grant Balfour recorded his team-record 43rd consecutive save.
“I just tried to act like number 40 in situations like that,” said Griffin, who worked his way out of a pair of two-on, two-out jams. “That’s something I’ve learned a lot just watching Bartolo pitch.”
Oakland (55-39), which is a major league-best 19-5 at home since May 17, has 55 victories before the All-Star break for the first time since 1975.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, give the ball to Brandon Workman (0-0, 13.50) for his first major league start. The right-hander surrendered three runs in two innings of relief in his big league debut Wednesday in an 11-4 win at Seattle.
Workman went 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Pawtucket before getting called up Tuesday.
“We know he’s going to throw strikes, that’s the one thing he’s proven over his minor league career,” manager John Farrell said of Workman, Boston’s minor league pitcher of the year last season. “We’re looking forward to seeing him in the starter’s role.”