Sean Rodriguez hits walk-off home run in first game back with the Pirates

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On Saturday, the Pirates brought back utilityman Sean Rodriguez in a trade with the Braves. Rodriguez spent the 2015-16 seasons with the Pirates, having the best year of his career in ’16 as he finished with a .270/.349/.510 triple-slash line across 342 plate appearances.

Rodriguez didn’t start in Sunday’s game against the Padres, but he did enter the game as a second baseman in the top of the eighth inning as part of a double-switch. He grounded out in his first at-bat, ending the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied 4-4. Rodriguez came back to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 12th against reliever Buddy Baumann. With a 1-1 count, Rodriguez pulled a 90 MPH fastball into the left field seats for a walk-off solo home run.

It’s been a tough year for Rodriguez. He, his wife, and two of his children were involved in an SUV accident in late January. Rodriguez suffered a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, which was expected to keep him out all season, but he returned on July 17.

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.