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Nationals fire Williams, entire staff

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

WASHINGTON (AP) Manager Matt Williams was fired by the Washington Nationals on Monday after a season in which the team went from World Series favorite to failing to make the playoffs.

The club announced the move a day after finishing the regular season barely above .500 at 83-79, second to the New York Mets in the NL East.

Williams is gone after only two seasons in his first job as a skipper in the majors. Last year, he was voted NL Manager of the Year after the Nationals finished with the best record in the league. In February, the Nationals exercised his 2016 contract option.


Rangers win AL West, eliminate Angels

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) First-year manager Jeff Banister stood in a corner of the Texas Rangers clubhouse watching players celebrate, with champagne spraying all over the place.

A year after their 95 losses were the most in the American League, two months after they were still eight games out of first place and three days after ensuring themselves a postseason spot, the Rangers clinched the AL West title with a 9-2 victory over the Angels on the last day of the regular season.


Bucs win, to host Cubs in wild-card game

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Pirates went 98-64, the second-best record in the major leagues. Still, they needed a win on the final day of the regular season to clinch home field in the NL wild-card game.

They got that win behind J.A. Happ's stellar effort and Pedro Alvarez's long home run Sunday, 4-0 over the Cincinnati Reds.


Astros to visit Yanks in wild-card game

PHOENIX (AP) Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch gathered his players around, took a puff from his victory cigar and told everyone to quiet down.

"You can say a lot of things about this team, but one thing they're going to say forever: We're a ... playoff team," Hinch told them while standing in puddles of beer and champagne.


Angels hire Yankees exec Eppler as GM

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels hired longtime Yankees executive Billy Eppler as their new general manager on Sunday night.

The 40-year-old Eppler replaces interim GM Bill Stoneman, who took over after Jerry Dipoto quit his job at midseason following his latest disagreement with Mike Scioscia, the longest-serving manager in baseball.


Kershaw first with 300 Ks since 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) Facing a shortened pitch count, Clayton Kershaw didn't waste any time going after his 300th strikeout.

He struck out seven of the 13 batters he faced to become the first pitcher in 13 years to reach the mark, while the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 6-3 Sunday to close the regular season on a four-game winning streak.


Average time of 9-inning MLB game drops

NEW YORK (AP) Major League Baseball has managed to cut six minutes from the average time of a nine-inning game this season, when it adopted some speedup rules.

STATS said Monday that the season average ended at 2 hours, 56 minutes. While the average dropped to 2:53 in the first half of the season, it was back at 3:00 after the All-Star break.


Cubs' Bryant has best-selling jersey

NEW YORK (AP) Chicago Cubs first baseman Kris Bryant has the most popular jersey among big leaguers this season, the first rookie to top the list since Major League Baseball and its players' union started releasing sales rankings from's online shop in 2010.

The 23-year-old made his debut April 17 and hit .275 with 26 homers and 99 RBIs for the Cubs, who play at Pittsbugh on Wednesday night in the NL wild-card game.


Resurgent Castro pitching in for Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) The music starts and fans clap in unison as Starlin Castro walks to the plate. Teammates in the Chicago Cubs' dugout get into it, and the same goes for everyone in the bullpen.

"It's awesome," Castro said. "It's the most fun thing that we've got all year. The fans have been crazy when that song (plays), get up. I feel really appreciated even if they don't understand what (the song) says. But they still like it."


Supreme Court tosses San Jose A's appeal

WASHINGTON (AP) The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from San Jose in the northern California city's bid to lure baseball's Athletics from Oakland.

The justices on Monday left in place lower court rulings that dismissed the city's antitrust claims against Major League Baseball, which blocked the Athletics' move to San Jose.

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