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Casey Blake leaves the sleepless nights to the Astros

May 19, 2010 |  8:38 am

Casey Blake
was in one of his funks again. One of those self-doubting, over-thinking, security-ridden funks.

The good news, he wasn’t lying awake at nights over-analyzing every component of his swing.

"Certainly I’ve gone down the path where I’ve sat up in bed at night and just brooded over it, and drove myself crazy and lost hours of sleep thinking about my swing or my lack of success or whatever," Casey said.

"I’ve tried that route. Hopefully I’m getting a little smarter with age. I’m trying to stay confident and patient and know that things are going to turn around and I’m going to come out on top of this thing. Always learning, I guess."

Blake was in a 2-for-22 skid. His average has slumped to .233. The team was winning, but he was a mess. He wasn’t just missing pitches, he was missing them badly.

Then on Monday night, he barely gets the bat around on a Wandy Rodriquez pitch and bounces it just inside the first-base bag for a two-run double. Not exactly a line drive, but it counted.

"That was a peach there," Blake said. "Over the last couple of weeks I squared some balls up that have gotten caught. I’m not saying I deserve anything or they all even out, but I’ll take a hundred of those hits."

Still, manager Joe Torre thought the hit was important. When you’re dying of thirst, every drop counts.

"He’s been frustrated, but it doesn’t keep him from working on it," Torre said. "I think the little squibber down the right-field line [Monday] night was a big turnaround for him. He got those couple of RBIs.

"He’s pretty determined. You have to reel him in every once in awhile and give him a day off, because I think that’s the only thing that we have to make sure we look at because we don’t want him to break down in any way. He’s too important for us."

Torre had given Blake, 36, Sunday’s game off, but Blake doesn’t buy that he was tired. At least, I don’t think so. This is Blake, after all.

"I’m not tired," he said. ``It’s too early to be tired. Actually, everyone is kinda tired the whole season. It’s a long season, it’s a grind.

"But my body feels really good. I think sometimes mentally you can kind of be in a funk, where sitting down and just kind of seeing the game from the dugout can be real helpful for you, maybe more helpful than getting right back on the horse and into the lineup.’’

Something was working Tuesday. Blake went 3-for-4, driving in a pair of runs against the Astros, including a solo homer in the eighth.

Blake has tried to learn from past experience, tried to temper his concern when the hits aren’t falling.

"You try not to think too much,’’ he said. ``Obviously your first reaction is to think there’s something mechanically, so you’re watching video. With me I think it’s more of a timing deal.

"It’s a battle I’ve had pretty much my whole career. When I go through stretches when I’m more consistent with my timing, I’m going to hit the ball better. Sometimes I get off. The way I hit requires pretty good timing. Hitting is timing, and when you don’t have it, you’re going to go through some rough stretches. So you start doubting and all that stuff.’’

Doubt can be relative, of course. And in Blake’s case, this rough period offered comparatively modest personal torture.

"I was talking to my wife about it, and I’ve been pretty cool actually,’’ he said. ``We’ve been winning and I just maintain I’ve always hit in the past. But it’s frustrating because you want to do so well for your team and help the team. It’s definitely frustrating. I don’t know.’’

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Casey Blake hits an RBI single against the Astros on Tuesday night. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire.