Juan Castro retires, joins Dodgers front office

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After 17 seasons in the big leagues — yes, 17 seasons — Juan Castro announced his retirement Sunday and took a job as a special assistant in the Dodgers front office.

Now, granted, Castro spent a lot of those 17 seasons playing in the minors, too.  He had one at-bat in 1999, three in 2010, four in 1995 and 14 this year.  But for 17 straight seasons, Castro got a chance to put on a major league uniform at least once.

And, oddly enough, Castro played for just five teams.  He opened and finished his career with the Dodgers, spending parts of eight seasons with the team.  He also served two stints and played eight seasons with the Reds.

His best season came with Cincinnati in 2003, when he hit .253/.290/.388 with a career-high nine homers in 320 at-bats.  It was his only season over 300 at-bats.

He ends his career with a .229/.268/.327 line, 36 homers and 234 RBI in 2,627 at-bats.  That .595 OPS is the worst of any player to have at least 2,000 plate appearances since 1990:

1. Castro – .595
2. Matt Walbeck – .596
3. Rey Ordonez – .600
4. John McDonald – .601
5. Jose Lind – .604
6. Tony Pena Sr. – 607
7. Alvaro Espinoza – .608
8. Mike Benjamin – .617
9. Felix Fermin – .617
10. Cesar Izturis – .618

So, no, Castro wasn’t a very good hitter.  He was also far from a speedster, stealing just five bases in 14 lifetime attempts.  Still, 17 years is awfully impressive, and it sounds like he has a nice career ahead of him in coaching or in the front office, depending on which route he wants to go.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.