Jason Castro launches walk-off homer as Astros complete sweep of Dodgers

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The Astros are making a habit out of this walk-off thing.

Jason Castro launched a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th inning this afternoon to give the Astros a 3-2 win over the Dodgers and complete a three-game sweep. It was their fourth walk-off win in their last eight games.

The Dodgers got a heck of an effort from Clayton Kershaw, who threw eight brilliant innings while allowing just one run and striking out 10 batters. However, Carlos Correa led off the bottom of the ninth with a single against closer Kenley Jansen and eventually stole second base before Marwin Gonzalez delivered a game-tying single with two outs. Castro ended things with a one-out homer against Chris Hatcher in the 10th, which was confirmed after replay review. You can watch the game-winning homer below.

The Astros sit at 69-56 on the year, with a four-game lead over the Rangers in the American League West. The fading Angels are 5 1/2 games back. As for the 67-56 Dodgers, they have lost five straight and things are starting to look dicey. If the Giants win tonight, they’ll be just a half-game back in the NL West. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are five games out.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?