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Closing Time: Brandon Workman, homer-happy Red Sox lineup overpower Mariners

07.30.13 at 9:57 pm ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman made his third straight quality start for the Red Sox. (AP)

Right-hander Brandon Workman made his third straight quality start for the Red Sox. (AP)

Jake who?

As the hours until the non-waiver trade deadline — 4 p.m. Wednesday — ticked away, Brandon Workman showed a Fenway Park crowd of 34,578 exactly what John Farrell meant when the manager said before the game that he is happy with his rotation.

Workman, a 24-year-old rookie righty making just his third major league start, equaled his effort from both of the first two in the Red Sox’ eventual 8-2 win over the Mariners. He lasted six innings while allowing Seattle one run on six hits and one walk. A career-best nine strikeouts were punctuated with a pair of big punchouts to end his 31-pitch sixth inning, his outing’s signature moment.

Known for his efficiency, ability to attack the strike zone and willingness to challenge hitters with his fastball, Workman  needed just 24 pitches to set down eight Mariners in a row in the third through sixth innings before the opposition started to break through. With one out in the sixth, Kyle Seager, Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez reached on back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases.

Workman, however, settled right down after a visit from pitching coach Juan Nieves.

Michael Morse, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound right fielder, struck out swinging on an elevated 92 mph fastball. Workman then got Justin Smoak swinging on a 93 mph fastball away to escape the jam and end his night.

He’s now delivered outstanding starts in each of his three big league outings in the rotation, with a 2.95 ERA, 18 strikeouts and four walks in 18 1/3 innings. He’s the second Red Sox pitcher since 1977 to allow two or fewer runs in each of his three big league starts; the only other Boston pitcher to do so in that span was Gar Finnvold in 1994.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia went yard in the second inning to expand the Red Sox’ lead to 5-2, and the homers were significant to each batter for separate reasons.

For Ellsbury, who sent a long fly ball into the Red Sox bullpen with one out and no one on, it was his fourth of the month after he hit just one in the first three months of the season (April 7). With a day to go — and just two months, plus potential postseason play, left until he’s a free agent — Ellsbury is batting .326 with an .888 OPS and eight extra-base hits in July.

Two batters later, following Shane Victorino‘s single through the left side, Pedroia sent a laser over the Monster, an encouraging sign after what has been a mostly rough stretch since the All-Star break. He stepped to the plate hitting .075 (3-for-40) since the Mid-Summer Classic, including an 0-for-16 stretch since his last base knock Saturday vs. the Orioles.

Pedroia later followed up with a fourth-inning single to center to score Victorino again.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed suit with a two-run blast of his own, his coming in the eighth inning to extend the Red Sox lead to 8-1. It was his first home run in 137 plate appearances dating back to June 9.

– Victorino went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, including one on a passed ball in the first inning, for his most effective offensive game of the month. He entered the contest hitting .227 with a .266 OBP and three times as many strikeouts (nine) as walks (three) in July.

It was the sixth game of at least three hits this season for the right fielder.

– The Red Sox got more effective relief work on a night when they were able to rest both Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara.

Craig Breslow entered in the seventh and needed only 12 pitches to elicit two groundouts and a pop-up before Matt Thornton recorded two strikeouts in his perfect eighth. Pedro Beato ran into trouble with two outs in the ninth, allowing Henry Blanco an RBI single, before finishing Seattle off by striking out Brad Miller.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– For all the scoring the Red Sox did early, they could have had even more if they didn’t lose a pair of outs on the basepaths. Jose Iglesias was the first victim after trying to stretch his wall-ball single into a double, which would have given him his first extra-base hit since July 4. Instead, he at first evaded a tag from Seattle second baseman Nick Franklin but ended up oversliding the bag. He got up and tried to scramble back to first, and was soon tagged out in a rundown.

The second baserunning error came in the fourth following Pedroia’s RBI single. He got halfway between second and first before deciding against testing the arm of center fielder Michael Saunders. Pedroia was cut down upon trying to return to first base, ending the inning.

– Iglesias has now gone 18 straight starts without either a walk or an extra-base hit, the longest such run by a Red Sox player since 2000. He had been tied for the longest such stretch with Scott Podsednik, who had a string of 17 straight starts without a free pass or multi-base hit last season.

– Workman had some trouble finishing innings, particularly early. Through the first three innings, the Mariners went 2-for-5 with walk and an RBI with two outs, including Morales’ RBI single — a bouncer up the middle, just out of reach of a diving Stephen Drew.

Until the iffy sixth inning, Workman had allowed one hit with fewer than two outs.

Read More: Brandon Workman, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, jose iglesias
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