Ryan Mountcastle tried just about everything, including early hitting, rest and fast food, to break out of his slump.
A burger and fountain soda usually does the trick. When times get desperate, he heads to a drive-thru window.
Mountcastle was prolific at the plate in the month of June, slashing .297/.346/.614 with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 26 games. He could keep eating healthy.
The heat in July never reached his bat, though, with Mountcastle posting a .195/.242/.299 line with one home run in 23 games.
Before last night, Mountcastle was 2-for-12 in August and 5-for-46 in his last 12 games. His last home run was July 3 in Minnesota.
In his second at-bat, he fell behind 1-2 to Pirates starter Mitch Keller and poked a single into right field. Wasn’t hit hard, but it found the wet grass.
In his last at-bat, he looped a broken-bat single into right field. Again, where it touched down was all that mattered.
“I think I’m seeing the ball pretty well,” he said earlier in the day. “I’m drawing some walks here and there, but it’s really between not getting much to hit or I’m just missing my pitches right now.
“Just part of the game. You go through it. But over this off-day, clear my mind a little bit and come back out there after that and start producing a little more.”
Mountcastle came to the plate in the first inning with two runners in scoring position and lined into a 6-5 double play. He took a few steps out of the box, bat still in hand, and tilted back his head as if in disbelief.
He got ahead 3-0 in the sixth after Anthony Santander’s leadoff double and grounded out.
“I see teams pitching him a certain way and Ryan not making the adjustment yet, and he has shown that he can do that,” manager Brandon Hyde before the game.
“He is scuffling, but he has proven that he can get out of these mini-slumps he’s in and turn it around quickly, and when he does it’s scary, because then the homers come in bunches and he gets big hits for us. I’m hoping that happens sooner rather than later for us.”
Mountcastle went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs Monday night in Arlington, Texas, but was hitless in seven at-bats over the last two games. He had a sacrifice fly and a walk on Tuesday.
The single and double didn’t convince Mountcastle that he was about to go on a tear.
“Even some of my hits didn’t really feel in-sync and I just felt a little bit off,” he said.
“Trying to figure it out. I’m working hard in the cage. It’s part of the game, I guess.”
So, too, are his trips to McDonald’s.
Mountcastle was scuffling with Triple-A Norfolk, consumed two all-beef patties and hit three home runs. And the rest is cholesterol history.
“I was like, ‘Yep, that’s it, McDonald’s,’” he said, laughing. “That was it.”
The go-to meal usually includes a Big Mac, and he needs something to wash it down, of course.
“The Cokes at McDonald’s are really good for some reason,” he said. “A nice fountain Coke from McDonald’s just sort of hits different, so one of those.”
Mountcastle wants to hit different, as well. His most recent attempt didn’t bring immediate results.
Maybe the powers of the special sauce are slower in the majors.
“I didn’t get any hits the next day,” he said, “so we were still struggling and trying to find it.”
Mountcastle will spend a lot more time swinging in the cage than scarfing burgers.
“I’ve tried everything the last couple weeks,” he said. “At the end of the day you’ve just got to work through it, and fast food every day probably won’t be great.”
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