Down 3-0 in the second inning, Napoli led off the inning with a strikeout, which wouldn’t be his last. Later in the fourth inning, the Red Sox had taken a 6-3 lead and had a chance to put the game away. Napoli came up with two runners on base and two outs. He struck out and the rally was over.
The Yankees began to rally and had closed the gap to 7-5 by the time Napoli came up again in the sixth inning. Once again there were two men on base and two outs. Napoli had a chance to put bury the Red Sox Al East rival, but once again, mighty Mikey struck out.
By the time the eighth inning came around, the Yankees had tied the game at seven. Napoli found himself in a familiar position. This time, the bases were loaded and there was just one out. All he needed was a sacrifice fly and the Red Sox would have the lead. Instead he grounded into a double play, and Shane Victorino violently slammed his helmet to the ground at home plate when he realized what had transpired.
So, how can you strike out three times and ground into a double play and still have a great game? Simple: smash home runs. Napoli made up for his transgressions in the third and 11th innings. Down 3-1 in the third inning, Napoli destroyed a ball that he put onto the Mass Pike and may be in Cambridge by now to give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.
Finally, in the 11th Napoli came up once again with two outs and the score tied. Napoli did not disappoint this time as he hit a dead shot to center field that broke the tie and sent the Fenway faithful home with the memories of a game that will live in infamy.
Napoli became the first MLB player in HISTORY to hit two home runs, strike out three times and hit into a double play in the same game. Baseball has been played for nearly 150 years now and no one has ever done what Napoli did last night. He saw 33 pitches last night and made the Yankees pitchers earn their outs, though, so even when he was bad, he was good.
This is the type of player Napoli is. He’s striking out at a historic rate right now, but as long as he can give you some games like he did last night, the Red Sox will be more than happy to take the bad with the good.