Brandon Workman was a hard-luck loser Wednesday.
Workman suffered the loss as the Red Sox fell to the Blue Jays 4-3 in 10 innings. But it shouldn’t overshadow what was an otherwise strong relief effort by the 25-year-old, who is quickly becoming a key cog in Boston’s bullpen.
Workman relieved Jon Lester with one out in the seventh inning Wednesday, and he kept the Blue Jays scoreless until the 10th inning, when Brett Lawrie’s game-winning single spoiled a dramatic, ninth-inning comeback by the Red Sox. The box score might indicate that Workman was the loser, but he’s already showing the makeup necessary to be a winner.
“I thought he was outstanding,” manager John Farrell said of the rookie. “He’s pitching with his back against the wall pretty much in every inning and showed a lot of maturity out there tonight.”
Workman struck out Rajai Davis and got Jose Bautista to fly out to left field upon entering in the seventh. He then worked through a walk in a scoreless eighth inning, which gave the Red Sox a chance to tie the game on a two-out, two-run homer by Mike Napoli in the top of the ninth.
The Red Sox went back to Workman after tying the game, and he tossed a perfect bottom of the ninth inning to send the game to extras for the second straight night. The Sox couldn’t cash in with two runners on in the 10th inning, though, and the Jays eventually walked off with a win in the bottom of the frame.
“I left a couple of breaking balls up that they hit pretty well,” Workman said. “It kind of cost me in the end.”
Workman immediately ran into some trouble in the 10th inning, as Davis continued his excellent play against Boston with a leadoff double. Davis took third base when Bautista grounded out to short, and the Red Sox opted to intentionally walk Edwin Encarnacion, who subsequently stole second base, to face Lawrie.
“We wanted to face Lawrie,” Farrell said of the decision. “We felt like with Workman’s breaking ball that would run away from him. He gets the swing and miss on the cutter and then the curveball stays middle of the plate that he’s able to handle. But the idea in that inning is we’re probably going to walk [Adam] Lind to get to [J.P.] Arencibia with the bases loaded. I just wanted to take advantage of Workman’s breaking ball against the righties.”
Lawrie ended up winning the game with a sharp ground ball to the left side that ricocheted off Stephen Drew’s glove, and Workman walked off the mound in defeat as the Blue Jays celebrated at Rogers Centre. There’s something to be said for the effort that Workman gave, though, and it’s clear that he’s starting to carve out an important role in Boston’s bullpen.
Workman helped minimize the damage in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Royals and played a big role in securing a 5-3 Red Sox win. His effort Wednesday won’t be remembered as fondly, but it was nearly as impressive, especially since the outcome could have been different with just one more key hit by the Red Sox.
“It’s kind of tough to feel good about it with the end result, but yeah, I did for the most part throw the ball well,” Workman said. “Like I said, I just have a couple of pitches that I wish I could take back.”
Workman admitted that he’s getting more comfortable, even with runners on base. It’s a good thing, because given how well he’s pitched in pressure-packed situations, Farrell probably won’t think twice about going back to the rookie in a big spot.