By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals fired manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred 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. Matheny is the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.