Last night was really a tale of two games for Mike Napoli. On one hand, you had the guy who hit 2 home runs (including the game winner), and you have the player who stuck out 3 times and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the 8th. Red Sox Nation was frustrated after that double play, judging by my Twitter feed, and rightfully so. We could have avoided extra innings and he would have won the hearts and minds of Red Sox Nation back that much sooner by driving in a couple runs right there. But, alas, he couldn't end it then. He did eventually end it with a shot to center field in the 11th. Any time you hit a walk-off, it earns you extra brownie points. Any time it's against the Yankees, that earns you even more brownie points.
I'm sure most of Red Sox Nation hasn't forgotten the bad parts of last night, because it underlies the struggles he's had through the season, especially with striking out. According to NESN, he's on pace to break Mark Bellhorn's Red Sox single season record for strikeout (he has 127 currently, according to ESPN). Yikes. But by coming through against the Yankees last night, he's most likely tempered the frustrations of the fans, at least temporarily. I'm sure the frustration will return in full force if he doesn't get better and fast. We've got Tampa breathing down our necks and they're coming to Fenway for a crucial 4 game series, so Napoli needs to step his game up and stop striking out. NOW.
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