Workman again does his part

BOSTON -- Brandon Workman was brought up from the minors on July 9 to help plug the ever-present holes in the Red Sox bullpen. He has ended up filling a gaping vacancy in the rotation, and has done so in impressive fashion.

Workman, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his first major league start at Oakland just prior to the All-Star break, allowed just two runs in six solid frames of a 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday in his first career appearance at Fenway Park.

When asked if he felt as if he had earned another turn or two in the rotation, Workman was quick to stress that such decisions were out of his hands. However, he has provided every indication that he’s up for more challenges.

“I feel comfortable on the mound. I feel like I’m settled in and throwing the ball well for the most part. I don’t have any nerves or anything,” Workman said.

That steely poise was evident in the first inning, when Workman gave up hits to the first three men he faced but limited the damage to just one run, thanks in large part to a pickoff. A leadoff walk led to another run in the fifth before the 24-year-old set down the final four men he faced and turned it over to the bullpen.

“After the first couple of innings in which they pressed him for a pretty good amount of pitches, pretty good poise, even in that first inning when he gave up a couple of hits,” manager John Farrell said of Workman. “He keeps the game under control and he shows some maturity on the mound for just three appearances here at the big league level.”

After one appearance out of the bullpen in Seattle on July 10, Workman has made two starts, against Bartolo Colon in Oakland and Matt Moore on Monday at Fenway. Those two are a combined 27-6 with an ERA below 3.00, ranking among the top hurlers in baseball this season. And yet Boston has been right in the mix in both games, a testament to Workman’s ability to, as his manager puts it, keep the game under control.

The stuff isn’t overpowering. But the ability to make in-game adjustments and to pitch to the situation in front of him has made Workman seem like a steady presence in just two starts.

“The last two outings he has done an amazing job, kept us in games,” right fielder Shane Victorino said.

Jose De La Torre threw 2 2/3 innings of solid relief after Workman was done. After the Sox used six relievers in their 11-inning victory over the Yankees that began Sunday night but carried well into Monday morning, the work of the unlikely tandem was much-appreciated.

“Those two guys pitched a very good game against a tough lineup. They gave the rest of our bullpen a little bit of a blow, which was much-needed,” Farrell said.

Clay Buchholz received positive news from Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday and should be able to move forward with a throwing program. However, Buchholz is nowhere near returning. In the meantime, Workman is the leading candidate to fill that spot every fifth day, and his outing Monday gave every indication he is more than just a stopgap in the bullpen. Even if that was the original plan.