Starlin Castro was the Yankees’ last shot Tuesday night. He came to the plate with two out in the ninth and the team down a run. He grounded out meekly to shortstop, the last piece in Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory at Citi Field.
It ended an 0-for-4 evening for the Yankees second baseman. That makes four hitless performances in his last five games. He is 1-for-22 in those games and now in a 1-for-24 funk. Manager Joe Girardi indicated that Castro is due for a day off soon and, while Wednesday could be a candidate, he has a career .389 average against Rays scheduled starter Chris Archer.
“I just think I am a little off,” Castro said. “I have to start trusting my hands again. That’s the thing. I don’t really trust my hands now. I am going to continue working and I know I’m going to be all right.”
He added that there is something about his mental approach that’s off-kilter right now as well.
“I feel like I am in-between right now. I feel like I am trying to hit two pitches instead of one. I am trying to hit curveballs and fastballs at the same time. . . . . I have to continue looking for one pitch and react to the other one,” he said. “This is a tough moment. It happens in baseball. I don’t want to be like that.”
Last month, Castro’s return from his second trip to the disabled list for a hamstring strain was fairly remarkable. He got back on Aug. 25 after missing 31 games and hit like he hadn’t been out at all. In his first 11 games back, he batted .372 with a home run and nine RBIs.
That’s disappearing fast in the rearview mirror.
Castro says neither physical ailment nor fatigue is a factor in the downturn in performance. Girardi said he wasn’t alarmed and appeared to indicate Castro might benefit from the mental break from this slump when he added “I don’t necessarily think it’s fatigue — it’s just hitters go through things where they are a little bit off. “
For Castro, the timing may be the hardest part of going through this. The Yankees are trying to run down the Red Sox for the AL East division title and, if not, at least secure the top wild card position for the postseason. After two stretches on the DL, he had been contributing in this critical time.
“We all have bad moments and it’s happening for me right now,” he said. “Hopefully tomorrow is the day to get out.”
And Castro wants to play on Wednesday. Maybe it’s because he’s aware of how well he hits Archer.
“It’s one of the moments that you have to keep your head up and keep fighting,” he said. “It’s already September and I’m ready. Today is over. Tomorrow, I come in ready.”