Clutch blast breeds confidence for Castro

Clutch blast breeds confidence for Castro

NEW YORK -- Starlin Castro's career statistics have been a source of curiosity for the Yankees all season. Players with considerably more experience blinked hard when they realized the young infielder was already closing in on 1,000 hits, which he surpassed shortly after Opening Day.

Even with all of those big league knocks, Castro had never experienced a walk-off home run prior to the Yankees' 9-8 victory over the Rockies on Wednesday -- certainly not in the Majors, and he claimed that he had never done so at any level. That, too, can now be erased from his to-do list.

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"It feels good," said Castro, who gleefully tossed his helmet in the air before stomping on home plate. "It's my first time happening, and it feels good. I see a lot of those guys doing it, and I want to feel that feeling too. Thank God I did it, and we win."

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Castro launched the second pitch that he saw from Colorado's Jason Motte over the left-field fence, marking his sixth career walk-off hit.

"I just took off my helmet and kept it in the air," Didi Gregorius said. "It was amazing. Everybody wants that at-bat in that situation, and he said it was the first walk-off homer he ever hit. It's amazing just to see it happen."

The blast was Castro's ninth homer of the season and the Yanks' third of the game, following Chase Headley's second-inning grand slam and Carlos Beltran's three-run shot in the seventh.

"With the bat, I know that he's capable of hitting for average, but also doing damage," Beltran said. "He's got pop. ... He's calm. He's a guy that plays the game under control. It's good to see that, man, when you play every day. When you play 162 games, you've got to be even-keeled."

The 26-year-old's three-hit afternoon included beating out an infield hit in the seventh inning that helped set up Gregorius' game-tying single.

"He knows what it is to play in a big market, and now that he's here, he's doing the same thing," Gregorius said. "He's relaxed. He does what he has to do to do his job."

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That has seemed to be true even as Castro watched his strong start in pinstripes fade, owning just six hits in 33 at-bats (.181) entering Wednesday's matinee. Castro said that he has been chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone, particularly in the dirt.

"He had a rough May, and I think June has been better than May," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He can be real streaky and can do some really good things."

Castro believes that now that he has a walk-off homer under his belt, it can propel him back on track.

"I think so," Castro said. "I think it's really important to have the confidence back and to feel good at the plate and just get it going."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.