Red Sox fall after Workman flirts with no-no
Right-hander no-hits A's through six in first big league start
OAKLAND -- Brandon Workman has faced 31 batters in his young Major League career and allowed a pair of home runs, to the first and 31st hitters.
It's what's happened in between that's so promising for the rookie Red Sox pitcher.
Workman, making the second appearance of his career and first start, carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Boston's 3-2 loss against the A's on Sunday at O.co Coliseum before Josh Donaldson crushed his dreams, and eventually those of the Red Sox, with a two-run home run that knocked Workman out of the game and the winning single in the 11th inning.
Donaldson's walk-off single against newly-acquired lefty Matt Thornton dropped the Red Sox (58-39) to 5-5 to end their 10-game West Coast trip and end the first half of the season just shy of their 20th series victory.
"I got myself in a jam, then made a pretty good pitch to Josh," said Thornton, who walked Chris Young and Derek Norris to set up Donaldson for the RBI opportunity. "But that hit doesn't matter if I don't walk guys. Walking guys late in a game will kill you every time."
Thornton's ill-starred Boston debut spoiled a gem from Workman, who breezed his way through Oakland's lineup with 40 pitches after three innings before giving up a walk to John Jaso with one out in the fourth.
Jaso reached base after working an 0-2 count into a 10-pitch at-bat, but Workman and catcher Ryan Lavarnway responded with a run-of-the-mill strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play to end the inning.
"He's got some deception in his delivery," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He stays behind his arm well, so when he's going to the side of the plate he's intending, he rarely makes a mistake across the plate. He trusts it and he believes in it."
Former Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp spoiled Workman's no-hit bid with an infield single up the middle to lead off the seventh, and Donaldson crushed Workman's 103rd and last pitch to tie the game, 2-2.
"I obviously knew it was going on, but it wasn't something I was worried about," Workman said. "I was still just trying to execute pitches."
Workman said his main concern heading into the contest was pitching deep into the game. Mission accomplished. The butterflies he felt Wednesday were gone, even with the no-hitter still intact.
"Obviously, I had a good outing," Workman said. "I was locating my pitches pretty well for the most part and had a lot of success with it, so it's something I think I can continue to do and build off of for the next time."
Sunday was a far cry from allowing a home run to his first big league batter four days ago. Brendan Ryan took Workman yard on Wednesday in relief against the Mariners and the next two batters hit back-to-back doubles against Boston's 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year in his first inning of work.
"He's been a starter, so I guess that game in Seattle was a little out of his element," said Jonny Gomes, who was ejected in the ninth for arguing with home-plate umpire Todd Tichenor. "It was a big-time eye-opener for the type of pitcher he is. When you got a guy like that coming up commanding his fastball against a big league ballclub, it shows a lot. Strikes are the name of the game and he did a heck of a job."
The Red Sox scored on a pair of RBI singles in the sixth and seventh innings off Bartolo Colon by Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt that put them up 2-0 for a brief spell before Donaldson's blast returned the game to a stalemate.
They loaded the bases with two outs in the 11th, but A's reliever Ryan Cook froze Holt looking to vanquish the attack.
The Red Sox head into the All-Star break with the most wins in baseball and best record in the American League, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Rays in the American League East.
Boston's 19 series victories in the first half of the season are one shy of the club's number of series wins last season.
"The All-Star break comes at a good time," Gomes said. "We got some guys heading up there to New York who will hopefully get us some home-field advantage and give us an opportunity to lick our wounds and get back to work."