The value of throwing first-pitch strikes is well known, but the Indians pitching staff should take care to also recognize the importance of throwing strikes on 1-1 counts when they face the Red Sox in the ALCS.
Red Sox hitters came to the plate with a 1-1 count 41 times against the Angels in the ALDS, and the results were notable. The most neutral result came when the 1-1 pitch was put into play, with batters going 3-for-10 with two singles and a double. It is what happened after the next pitch was taken that stands out.
The Red Sox had 14 plate appearances in which a 1-1 count became a 1-2 count, and the lone positive result was a single by David Ortiz off of Kelvim Escobar. The other 13 PAs ended in outs.
Conversely, Boston had 17 plate appearances in which a 1-1 count became a 2-1 count, and 10 times the batter reached safely. There were seven base hits: four singles, two doubles, and a Kevin Youkilis home run off of John Lackey. Three batters drew walks.
Youkilis had the most extreme individual split, going 2-for-2 with a double and a home run after 1-1 became 2-1. He was retired both times when 1-1 became 1-2.