NEW YORK — Brandon Workman has an excuse. It doesn’t mean he’s using it.
Workman looked every bit like a pitcher who hadn’t pitched in 12 days in his return from a six-game suspension Friday. He wasn’t the main problem in the Red Sox’s 6-0 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, though, and he actually carved out a fairly decent effort, all things considered.
“It was a little bit of a grind the whole time,” Workman said after the game. “I was constantly pitching with guys on and stuff like that. I was able to pitch out of some situations, but they tagged for a couple of homers. That hurt.”
Workman’s stat line wasn’t impressive. The right-hander allowed four earned runs on seven hits over seven innings. He threw 108 pitches (76 strikes) while walking five and striking out two. Three of the four runs Workman allowed came on home runs, as Kelly Johnson and Brett Gardner went back-to-back with two outs in the fourth inning.
Even when Workman wasn’t surrendering long balls, he still teetered on the edge. Derek Jeter singled and Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in the first inning — paving the way for Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly — and New York loaded the bases with one out in third inning before coming up empty as Workman struck out Teixeira and retired Carlos Beltran on a groundout. Yet Workman hung in there for the longest start of his young career, reaching a career-high pitch count in the process.
“With the exception of the 1-1 fastball to Kelly Johnson, I thought he gave us a solid outing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Seven quality innings, with the exception of the one pitch.”
The problem was that one misfired pitch was more than enough for the Yankees to hand the Red Sox their sixth loss in eight games on the current 10-game road trip. The Red Sox’s offense produced just three hits — one after the second inning — and there was absolutely no margin for error, though Workman insists that added pressure didn’t play a factor in his few mistakes.
“Whether we’re scoring runs or not, I’m still trying to put up zeros — doing everything I can to do that,” Workman said. “It really doesn’t affect anything I was trying to do on the mound.”
Workman had allowed three runs or fewer while pitching at least five innings in all eight of his major league starts before Friday’s loss. The four-run yield prevented him from tying Boo Ferriss (nine starts in 1945) for the longest such streak to begin a Red Sox career.
It would be fair to give Workman a free pass, considering he hadn’t pitched since June 15 and his effort actually kept the Red Sox in the game, to some extent, until Craig Breslow surrendered a two-run homer to Brian McCann in the bottom of the eighth inning. But Workman was unwilling to play the layoff card.
“I’m not going to use that as an excuse,” Workman said. “I threw between (starts), I worked, I stayed sharp. That’s not any kind of excuse.”
Workman had an excuse Friday and chose not to use it. The Red Sox’s offense, on the other hand, no longer is afforded excuses.