Charlie Morris claimed his 50th wicket of the season in the LV = County Championship but Worcestershire endured a demanding opening day against Essex at Chelmsford.
The paceman reached the milestone – the third Worcestershire player to achieve the feat in 2014 – when he accounted for Greg Smith.
But it was a rare high after Worcestershire were bowled out for 84 by lunch after being put into bat on a green wicket.
All-rounder Joe Leach continued his recent good form and top-scored with 39 off 30 balls with five boundaries.
But Moeen Ali (12) was the only other player into double figures in the bowler-friendly conditions where the toss of the coin was a crucial factor although a couple of shots could have been better executed.
Jesse Ryder did the bulk of the damage with 5-24 from 10 overs after taking the new ball.
By the close Essex had moved onto 198-3 from 69 overs – a lead of 114 – thanks chiefly to an unbeaten century from Nick Browne as the wicket dried out.
Worcestershire, needing a maximum of six points to lift the title, lost opener Richard Oliver (0) in the first over when he edged David Masters to Tom Westley at second slip with a single on the board.
Moeen drove Ryder for the first boundary of the innings and a similar shot brought him another four. A three wide of gulley by Moeen meant the over cost 11 runs.
Masters asked questions of the England batsman in the testing conditions. But it was Ryder who dismissed Worcestershire's most experienced pair of batsman in successive overs.
First Moeen (12) was caught behind by Essex skipper and keeper James Foster.
Then Mitchell (4) was through his shot to a slower delivery from Ryder and the ball spooned up to Graham Napier with the score on 21-3 in the 10th over.
Alexei Kervezee (2) shouldered arms and was bowled by a Ryder delivery which cut back sharply and the New Zealander trapped Tom Kohler-Cadmore lbw for four.
Tom Fell (7) perished to a loose shot when he lashed out at James Porter and fell to a head high catch by Ryder at first slip.
Ben Cox was lbw to Ryder for nought at 31-7 but then Leach and Brett D'Oliveira, playing his first Championship match of the season, added 45 in nine overs.
Napier had D'Oliveira (7) caught behind and then Masters held onto an instinctive caught and bowled chance offered from a powerful shot by Leach.
The innings ended on the stroke of lunch when Napier bowled Jack Shantry (six).
Worcestershire made an early breakthrough when Tom Westley (3) was run out when failing toa beat a good throw from D'Oliveira after being called for a quick single by Nick Browne.
Morris reached his half century of wickets when Smith (14) edged to Mitchell at second slip with the total 26-2.
But Browne and Ravi Bopara (31) added a watchful 80 in 34 overs before the latter edged a delivery that bounced from Moeen to Mitchell at slip.
Browne found another solid partner in James Foster as he went to three figures with a pull for four off D'Oliveira. It came off 209 balls with 15 fours.
By the close Browne had moved onto 106 not out and Foster 36 not out with the stand so far worth 92 in 25 overs.
Morris finished with 1-32 from 15 overs and Moeen 1-44 from 16 overs.
*Former Worcestershire batsman Neil Pinner, 23, has signed a one-year contract with Leicestershire.