For a team which has hung around the wild race race on the strength of its pitching, eight runs should have been more than enough to win both games for New York. But the Yankee pitchers were simply unable to put the Red Sox hitters away.
Two nights in a row, Shane Victorino has had the go ahead hit with two strikes in the count. Granted, he was given four strikes in the first game of the series, after Joe West said he checked his swing on a 1-2 count. But, to Victorino’s credit, he made the most of his extra opportunity and lined the go-ahead single into right field.
The same thing happened tonight. Preston Claiborne got ahead in the count and was a strike away from sitting Victorino down. But Claiborne could not finish the job. He hung a slider over the middle of the plate and Victorino hit it deep into the left field stands.
In the inning before, Mike Napoli, too, had been down in the count one ball and two strikes. But he battled against Boone Logan, fouling off one close pitch after the next. He worked the count full and finally got a pitch he could handle, driving it the other way to the short porch in right for a game tying grand slam.
As the Texas Rangers can attest, one pitch can make the difference between winning and losing a game. After all, they were a strike away from winning the World Series.
Yankee pitchers are doing a fantastic job getting ahead of Boston hitters but they must finish them off if they want any chance at playing for a title.