two strikes against someone/something, to have

*two strikes against

 one
1. two strikes on a baseball batter, three being the number that will put the batter "out." (Such a player is in a vulnerable position. *Typically: get ~; have ~.) Sammy has two strikes against him and might just strike out.
2. Fig. a critical number of things against one; a position wherein success is unlikely or where the success of the next move is crucial. (Fig. on {2} *Typically: get ~; have ~.) Poor Bob had two strikes against him when he tried to explain where he was last night. I can't win. I've got two strikes against me before I start.
See also: strike, two

two strikes against

Strong factors opposing, as in There are two strikes against her possibility of a promotion. This term comes from baseball, where a batter is allowed three strikes at a fairly pitched ball before being called out; thus, a batter with two strikes has but one more chance to hit a fair ball. The figurative use dates from the early 1900s.
See also: strike, two

two strikes against someone/something, to have

The odds are already against someone or something. This term comes from baseball, where the batter is allowed three strikes (swings at the ball) before being called out (losing the turn at bat). Thus a batter with two strikes called has only one more chance to swing and connect. The term was transferred to other undertakings by the early twentieth century. Thus, “All movements for social good will . . . have two strikes on them before they start” (New Republic, 1938).
See also: have, someone, strike, two