Dominican Republic tops Puerto Rico to secure top seed in Pool Two of WBC

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The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have already clinched spots for the World Baseball Classic semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco, but the two teams squared off this afternoon to determine the top seed out of the Miami group.

Pitching was strong on both sides, but the Dominican Republic topped Puerto Rico by the score of 2-0 to stay undefeated in the tournament. Carlos Santana broke a scoreless tie with a long solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Francisco Pena, the son of Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena, provided some valuable insurance with an opposite-field RBI single in the eighth.

Wandy Rodriguez came up huge for the Dominicans by allowing just two hits over six innings of shutout ball. Jose Veras, Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney followed with three scoreless frames in relief to lock down the victory. Robinson Cano was selected as the MVP of the Miami bracket while the Dominican Republic is now 6-0 in the tournament.

As the top seed in Group Two, the Dominican Republic squad will get tomorrow off before facing the Netherlands on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET. They’ll be looking for revenge, as the Netherlands ousted them from the 2009 World Baseball Classic. As for Puerto Rico, they’ll have the tougher task of hopping on a plane to face a well-rested Japan team tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET. The winners will face off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

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.