The Royals announced on Wednesday that the club signed lefty reliever Jake Diekman to a one-year, $2.25 million contract that includes a mutual option for the 2020 season with a $500,000 buyout. The Athletic’s Rustin Dodd provided the specifics. To make room for Diekman on the 40-man roster, the Royals transferred pitcher Jesse Hahn to the 60-day injured list.
Diekman, 32, spent last season between the Rangers and Diamondbacks. He posted a 4.73 ERA with a 66/31 K/BB ratio in 53 1/3 innings. He was much better in his 39 innings with the Rangers, as he posted a 3.69 ERA. He yielded 15 runs (12 earned) in 14 1/3 innings with the D-Backs.
Diekman will slot into the back of the Royals’ bullpen along with Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger. Manager Ned Yost said earlier today, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, that he’s not ready to name a closer, so Diekman could potentially enter into that competition.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.