Red Sox rookie Brandon Workman was excited when he learned Roger Clemens would be at Fenway Park on Tuesday night to take part in a pregame ceremony to honor former manager Joe Morgan.
Workman was a senior at Bowie (Texas) High when Clemens pitched his final season in the majors. Like Clemens, Workman then pitched for the University of Texas before the Sox picked him in the second round of the 2010 draft
“He’s obviously a hero, whatever you want to call it. An idol,” the 24-year-old Workman said of Clemens.
Workman met Clemens at a Texas alumni game a few years back and would have welcomed the chance to say hello again, but he was too busy winning his first major league game.
Workman pitched six strong innings in an 8-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners before a crowd of 34,578 at Fenway Park.
“I couldn’t be more excited about it. Not only did I get my first big league win, but it’s a good spot for a win for our team, too. So it’s great all around,” Workman said.
Workman allowed one run on six hits. He walked one and struck out nine. In three major league starts, he has a 2.45 earned run average and 17 strikeouts over 18⅓ innings.
In his first three career starts, Workman has gone at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs. No Red Sox pitcher has done that since Rick Jones in 1976.
“[Workman’s] stepped in and solidifies things through three starts. When you watch on the mound, it’s almost like he’s been here for a lot longer than three starts,” manager John Farrell said.
With the acquisition of starter Jake Peavy late Tuesday night, Workman could pitch out of the bullpen. But regardless of his role, he has shown he can help the pitching staff.
“He’s grabbed a hold of it and he’s running with it right now,” Farrell said.
The Sox also got their offense on track a day after a bitter 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Home runs by Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were part of an 11-hit attack.
Saltalamacchia’s homer was a two-run blast to center in the eighth inning. It was his first since June 9.
“I forgot how it felt until I hit it. Even when I hit it, I didn’t think it was going to go in that corner over there,” Saltalamacchia said.
Shane Victorino was 3 for 4 with two doubles and scored three runs. Pedroia, who was 3 for 39 in the previous 10 games, was 2 for 4.
Craig Breslow, Matt Thornton, and Pedro Beato closed the game out for the Sox, who started a 16-game stretch against the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, and Blue Jays.
Workman struggled in the first inning, but allowed only one run. Nick Franklin doubled to left field with one out then scored on a two-out single by Kendry Morales.
Workman struck out Raul Ibanez to end the inning.
Workman settled in nicely from there. He retired eight straight before Kyle Seager singled with one out in the sixth inning. Singles by Morales and Ibanez followed to load the bases.
With the Red Sox bullpen in motion, Workman struck out Michael Morse and Justin Smoak on 12 total pitches to end his outing. Both went down swinging at fastballs.
Workman walked off the mound pumping his fist as the crowed saluted him.
“I was just trying to execute pitches,” Workman said. “I had been executing pretty well all night and had a lot of success. So I was just trying to do that. Continue to make my same pitches that I’ve been making all night.”
Said Farrell: “I thought he showed a tremendous amount of poise . . . Hopefully tonight is the first of many wins for him.”
Seattle starter Joe Saunders (9-10) allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits over five innings.
The Sox took a 2-1 lead in the first inning when they sent eight batters to the plate and forced Saunders to throw 29 pitches.
Victorino doubled down the line in left with one out. He took third when Pedroia grounded to shortstop and Brad Miller booted the ball. A passed ball by Henry Blanco allowed Victorino to score.
David Ortiz then beat the infield shift with a single through the exact spot Miller would have been in had he stayed at shortstop.
The lead grew to 5-1 in the second inning thanks to some power. Ellsbury homered into the Seattle bullpen, his fifth of the season and fourth this month. Victorino singled before Pedroia launched a full-count fastball into the Monster seats.
In the fourth inning, Victorino doubled to right field with two outs. Pedroia then singled to the gap in left, driving in his third run of the night. The sloppy base running continued when Pedroia took a long turn around first and was thrown out going back to first with Ortiz on deck.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.