Down to your last strike.Just read that again. Sounds daunting, right? Margin for error, leeway, wiggle room ... these are the suppliers of second chances that so often sustain us. But when you're down to your last strike -- in life, in love and certainly in baseball -- it's time to deliver or be dismissed. While pitchers pull out their putaways, often aggressively searching for that final strike, hitters usually have to take a more defensive stance in two-strike counts. And those who can maintain their sense of calm and their sense of the strike zone are the ones undaunted by the dilemma. "You've got to be able to relax in those situations," Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon said. "The pressure's on the pitcher, not you. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing at times. At other times, it can be the kiss of death." And if a team has a bunch of ballplayers who can keep a handle on their heartbeats and battle at the plate with two strikes, well, the offense is that much better for it.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.