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07-09-2018 08:30 AM
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The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t accustomed to stretches of mediocrity Ndamukong Suh Jersey , and certainly not to reports of clubhouse unrest.

The prospect of a third straight year without a postseason berth has spelled the end for manager Mike Matheny.

Matheny was stunningly fired Saturday night following an 8-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, a defeat that dropped St. Louis to 47-46 and 7 1/2 games back of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.

Bench coach Mike Shildt was named the team’s interim manager. Hitting coach John Mabry and assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller were also fired.

The Cardinals haven’t missed three straight postseasons since 1997-99.

”These decisions are never easy, but we felt that a change in leadership was necessary as the team prepares to enter into the second half of the season,” Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said. ”I would like to thank Mike for his exceptional commitment and devotion to the Cardinals organization, including many fond memories of our years working together.”

This will be the club’s first midseason managerial change since Joe Torre was replaced by Mike Jorgensen in 1995.

Matheny went 591-473 as manager, and his tenure included a loss to the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 World Series. Matheny was a Gold Glove Award-winning catcher with St. Louis from 2000-04 before getting his first managerial job with the club prior to the 2012 season.

The Cardinals made the playoffs in Matheny’s first four years before missing the past two postseasons.

Near the end of last season, St. Louis chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. defended and praised Matheny, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the manager was ”the right guy to lead us into the future.”

That future ended 93 games into this season. The Cardinals have underperformed on offense and struggled in recent weeks amid reports of locker room discontent – primarily between struggling outfielder Dexter Fowler and Matheny.

This season started with promise. The Cardinals acquired cleanup hitter Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins during the offseason DJ Chark Jersey , and they had high hopes for right-hander Alex Reyes in his return to the rotation after missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery.

Ozuna has failed to live up to lofty expectations, entering Saturday night’s game hitting .270 and with 10 home runs. Reyes missed the first two months of the season while rehabbing, then was lost again for the year after injuring his shoulder in his first start back with St. Louis.

Fowler, in his second season since leaving the Chicago Cubs to join St. Louis, has been at the center of the Cardinals’ offensive woes – hitting just .169 entering Saturday’s game and the focal point of reported clubhouse tension.

Matheny has limited the outfielder’s playing time of late, and Mozeliak recently said he couldn’t defend Fowler’s ”effort and his energy level.” The Athletic cited multiple sources in reporting that Matheny and Fowler have barely spoken in months. The Athletic also reported this week about a rocky relationship between veteran closer Bud Norris and rookie setup man Jordan Hicks.

It was the rise of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, who have won the Central in each of the last two years, that put Matheny’s future in doubt with many St. Louis fans. The Cardinals finished 17 games back of Chicago in 2016 and nine games back of Chicago in third place a year ago – due in large part of St. Louis’ 4-15 record against its rival to the north. Matheny’s in-game moves were also routinely criticized by advocates of advanced analytics.

Matheny agreed to a three-year contract extension after the 2016 season to keep him with St. Louis through the 2020 season.

Since DeWitt Jr. bought the team in 2005 Cooper Kupp Jersey , Matheny was one of only two managers for the Cardinals – along with Tony La Russa.

The 47-year-old Matheny won three of his four Gold Gloves with St. Louis and was part of three postseason efforts, including a World Series. He became a team leader playing for La Russa, who retired just days after leading the team to his second World Series title in 2011. Matheny was announced as La Russa’s replacement later that month.

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins face an interesting decision entering the final weekend of the regular season starting Saturday when they host the Ottawa Senators.

Do they go for the top spot in the Atlantic Division or provide rest for some of their battered and bruised troops against Ottawa and again on Sunday’s makeup game against the Florida Panthers?

The Bruins lost Thursday night at Florida and were eliminated from the President’s Trophy race. The late loss also allowed the Tampa Bay Lightning to remain tied with Boston for first place in the division and Tampa Bay took a two-point lead with Friday night’s home win over the Buffalo Sabres.

So, to finish first, the Bruins would have to sweep the Ottawa Senators and the Florida Panthers at home this weekend, while the Lightning failed to get two points at Carolina on Saturday night.

The interesting angle on all this is wondering how the Bruins are better off. If they win the division, they would get one of three Metropolitan teams — the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils or the Philadelphia Flyers. If they finish second Ryan Griffin Jersey , it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs in a clash of the only two Original Six teams heading to the playoffs.

The Bruins went 0-2-1 on their road trip that ended the road season.

Bodies are in and out of the lineup and there is a feeling some could use some rest after dropping both games in Florida in regulation.

“Hopefully we learn from (this) and hopefully we realize this is going to be the hockey we’re going to play,” Boston’s Patrice Bergeron said after Thursday night’s 3-2 loss. “If we want to play until June that’s how it’s going to be. We have to realize that and be better.”

The Senators, playing out the string like all the Canadian-based teams except the Maple Leafs are 2-3-0 in their last four games but 2-9-0 in their last 11.

The Bruins have won all three of the games between the teams this season, one at TD Garden, where the Sens won all five games counting playoffs last year.

The Senators lost in Pittsburgh Friday night. On Wednesday night, they won at Buffalo as the Sabres clinched the worst record in the league for the coming draft lottery.

“We’re out there, we’re playing to win, we want to win as many games as we can and prove that we belong in the roles that we play Tyler Eifert Jersey ,” Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson said after the win in Buffalo. “We want to make sure we play for each other, we play for our fans, we play for the crest on the front. We know that all we can do is go out there and work hard and let the chips fall as they may.”

Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin are likely to split the two weekend games for the Bruins, who are still waiting for the return of Rick and Riley Nash and Sean Karaly while others, like Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy continue to shake off rust.

Rask is 11-7-4 with a 2.17 goals against average and .925 save percentage in the regular season against the Senators but lost to them in last year’s playoffs. Khudobin is 5-0-1 with a 1.81 GAA and .948 save percentage against Ottawa.

Anderson is 12-12-0 with a GAA of 3.05 and a .905 save percentage against Boston in the regular season and beat the Bruins in last year’s postseason.

Mike Condon is 2-4-0 with 2.87 GAA and .907 save percentage against Boston. He defeated the Bruins in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro as a rookie.

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