Brandon Workman achieves a milestone, but bullpen likely awaits him

July 30, 2013 - 10:21 pm

The bases were loaded and Brandon Workman'€™s pitch count was rising, quickly, in the top of the sixth. He had just given up three consecutive singles to the meat of the Mariners lineup to put them within one swing of the bat of getting back in the game, pulling pitching coach Juan Nieves out of the dugout for an infield powwow on the mound. Twelve pitches and two strikeouts later, the inning was over, Workman'€™s night was done and the Red Sox escaped the biggest jam of the evening en route to the 8-2 win, Workman'€™s first as a big leaguer. '€œI couldn'€™t be more excited right now,'€ said Workman, a 24-year-old rookie right-hander. '€œNot only did I get my first big league win, but it'€™s a big spot for a win for our team, too. It'€™s great all the way around. '€œIt'€™s something I'€™ve dreamed about since I was a boy, and to be able to make that happen tonight was great.'€ Workman -- with one of his childhood idols, Roger Clemens, in attendance -- scattered six hits, half of them singles in that final frame, and a walk in his six innings of work, fanning a career-high nine while allowing just one run. In other words, it was what has become a standard Workman outing. In three starts this month he went a total of 18 1/3 innings while allowing five runs on 15 hits and four walks '€” numbers good for a 2.45 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. But with the acquisition of Jake Peavy shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday night'€™s win at Fenway Park, the outing likely marked Workman'€™s final start, at least for the time being. Originally promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to work out of the bullpen, Workman moved to the rotation when Allen Webster was ineffective in trying to replace the injured Clay Buchholz. General manager Ben Cherington said in a conference call late Tuesday night Workman will likely return to the '€˜pen. If nothing else, Workman did provide the Red Sox with leverage in the trade market. With Workman showing an ability to produce at the major league level, the Red Sox were not forced to trade for a starter, and in the end they parted with only Jose Iglesias and three minor leaguers for Peavy '€” a deal perceived by many to be a good one for the Sox, in that it left their inventory of top prospects intact. If Tuesday was indeed Workman'€™s farewell to the rotation (for now), he went out exactly as Nieves would have expected: throwing strikes, not afraid to challenge hitters, and not beating himself. Nieves is looking forward to seeing Workman '€œmany, many, many times more,'€ be it in the rotation or bullpen. '€œI have no problem with him staying in the rotation, being involved in this pitching staff,'€ Nieves said after the game but before the Peavy deal was official. '€œHe'€™s a key component to this staff. '€œThis kid is from Texas, so I know he'€™s really tough. Throughout the time he'€™s been here, there'€™s no second-guessing, there'€™s no deer-in-the-headlights look. Usually, you can see that on guys right away. '€œYou look in [a pitcher's] eyes, and you know '€” you have a gut feeling about them. This kid is mature, he knows what he wants, and he has a plan when he goes out there, which is great. He executes the plan.'€ Workman, who ran into trouble in the first and allowed two-out baserunners in the second and third innings, stayed efficient despite the potential distractions. He needed just 24 pitches to record eight outs between the third and sixth innings. An ability to throw his curve for strikes made the difference, the way Workman saw it. '€œIt'€™s something I haven'€™t been able to do my past couple outings, but I'€™ve been working on it in the bullpen and kind of got it down to where I could throw it in the zone tonight,'€ Workman said. The curve, however, wasn'€™t his go-to pitch in the biggest moments Tuesday. He got both Michael Morse and Justin Smoak striking out swinging on fastballs in the sixth to escape the bases-loaded, one-out jam following the visit from Nieves. That shouldn'€™t come as any surprise either, though. '€œI'€™ve been confident my whole life in my ability to locate a fastball and get outs with it,'€ Workman said. '€œAnd nothing'€™s really changed with that.'€