Three pitches into his first at-bat, Mike Napoli was staring down the barrel of the kind of history no one wants to be a part of.
He was down, 1 and 2, to Yankees lefthander CC Sabathia after watching a sinker barely graze the outside of the strike zone and then passing on a belt-high slider.
It was a count he had seen 100 times before this season. Fifty-five of those ended in strikeouts.
Sitting on 176 punchouts for the season, one more strike and Napoli would have been nestled next to Mark Bellhorn in the Red Sox’ record book for most strikeouts in a season. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.