Carlos Zambrano loses in his return to the starting rotation

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Carlos Zambrano throwing.jpgCarlos Zambrano took the loss in his return to the starting rotation against the Astros on Friday night, allowing three runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings while striking out three and walking three. He was pulled after throwing 85 pitches.

While his overall line doesn’t look all that impressive, he was much better after a shaky 34-pitch first inning. The final two runs were charged to him after he was relieved by Tom Gorzelanny in the fifth inning.

Despite the loss, “Big Z” told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he was happy with his effort.

“The most important thing was my fastball was good today, my sinker was
good,” Zambrano said. “That’s the important thing about me. Team-wise,
we’re just not playing good. We just need to score more runs.”

He’s right. The Cubs have lost four consecutive games and have scored two runs or less in each of them.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.