Ervin Santana throws seven innings in latest tuneup start in minors

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Ervin Santana is still serving out his 80-game PED suspension, but he’s permitted to pitch in the minors in preparation for joining the Twins on July 5 against the Royals. After a strong performance in his first start with Triple-A Rochester last Saturday, the veteran right-hander had his second start tonight:

Santana has allowed four runs in 12 2/3 innings with a 6/4 K/BB ratio over his first two outings. He will make one more tuneup start in the minors before his Twins debut.

After posting a 3.95 ERA over 31 starts with the Braves last season, Santana received a franchise record four-year, $55 million free agent contract from Minnesota over the winter. It’s been a long wait, but the surprising Twins (39-33) are hoping to get some bang for their buck over the final three months of the season.

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

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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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.