Scott Kazmir dazzles in his Astros debut

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Lefty Scott Kazmir dazzled in his Astros debut on Friday night, tossing seven scoreless innings against the Royals, the American League’s best team by record. He gave up three hits and a walk while striking out three on 91 pitches in a 4-0 victory.

The Astros acquired Kazmir on Thursday in exchange for pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham, both minor leaguers.

Kazmir slots in nicely behind Dallas Keuchel, giving the Astros a nice 1-2 punch. He entered Friday’s start with a 2.38 ERA and a 101/35 K/BB ratio over 109 2/3 innings spanning 18 starts. It’s a stunning career turnaround, considering Kazmir was playing in the Atlantic League with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012.

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.