Brandon Workman turned in another strong performance, but with Boston's offense once again going quiet, an eleventh-inning homer from Nick Swisher was enough to send them to a second consecutive 2-3 defeat.
The day did not start off well for Workman. Before the first inning was over the Red Sox found themselves down a run, Michael Brantley jumping out ahead of a cut fastball coming back over the plate and keeping it fair over the short fence in right field for a solo shot. A Jason Kipnis ground ball ended the inning, but the damage had been done.
It was not, however, damage the Red Sox would struggle to undo. A pair of singles from Brock Holt and David Ortiz quickly got the Red Sox even again. With Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava both reaching base behind Ortiz, the Sox were even threatening to take the lead, but two straight curveballs fooled A.J. Pierzynski, leaving the catcher the victim of a three-pitch strikeout and getting Corey Kluber out of an early jam.
Despite each pitcher allowing a first-inning run, the tenor of the game would settle into something approaching a pitchers' duel. Brandon Workman, if not quite as untouchable as in his last outing, was still dealing on the mound. Workman would retire the next eight batters he faced after Brantley's home run, half of them by way of the K. He did start to stumble later in the game, giving up a couple weak singles in the fourth and then a more convincing double in a fifth inning that also saw him hit Yan Gomes, but after six he had allowed just four hits and a walk, striking out seven.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, had even given him a lead, however small. It wasn't the most impressive rally, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt reaching base in the bottom of the fifth, all it took was a ground ball from Dustin Pedroia to give Boston the lead.
Unfortunately, when it came to a seventh inning, Brandon Workman just wasn't up for it. He's been held to relatively low pitch counts so far this season, and when John Farrell attempted to get a seventh inning out of him, Workman responded by giving up a walk and a hit. Burke Badenhop was able to get the next three batters out, but crucially could not induce the ground ball he really needed, letting the Indians tie the game with a sacrifice fly. Workman will need to pitch these seventh innings eventually if he's to remain a starter, making Farrell's risk entirely reasonable. It just didn't work out today.
Usually, the second run coming in the seventh inning should be a pretty good sign of a winning effort. But...this is the Red Sox offense we're talking about, and that 10-run outburst seems to have been little more than a blip on the radar. Oh, they had their chances again, but a 1-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position is just not going to get the job done. Perhaps their best chance came with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, with Brock Holt coming just a step shy of beating out a walkoff infield single.
But a step is a step, and the Red Sox did not get that third run. Instead, in the eleventh, it was Nick Swisher wrapping a high fastball from Junichi Tazawa around the pole in right to put the Indians ahead 3-2. With the Red Sox producing three anemic outs in the bottom half of the inning, another strong pitching performance had officially gone to waste.