Francona pleased with club's first half

Francona pleased with club's first half

TORONTO -- With Sunday's contest against the Blue Jays being the last before the three-day All-Star break, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was peppered with questions about his squad's first-half performance.

His response: "Up and down."

After starting the season a pedestrian 11-12 in April, the Red Sox persevered through injuries to deliver a combined 36-20 record in May and June. Despite stumbling into Sunday's first-half finale 3-5 through July, the club has is 50-37, which all things considered, has been quite a feat.

Boston enters the break with 14 players on the 15-day disabled list, including All-Stars Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, and Clay Buchholz -- not to mention starting pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has only appeared in nine games this season.

"I love this team," Francona said. "They're easy to like. The first month of the season was really difficult for a lot of reasons, but we got through it. I know it's not perfect, I recognize that, but the level of intensity and trying to do the right thing has been off the charts. It's been a challenge, but one that I think we've all kind of enjoyed.

"Our job is to win with what we have -- and that's today."