Jake Diekman
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Royals trade Jake Diekman to Athletics

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The Athletics have acquired lefty reliever Jake Diekman from the Royals for minor league right-hander Ismael Aquino and outfielder Dairon Blanco, the teams announced Saturday.

It figures to be a big get for the Athletics, whose bullpen already ranks second-best in the majors behind that of the Yankees. Diekman, 32, inked a one-year, $2.75 million pact with the Royals back in January, and has since turned in a 4.75 ERA, 5.0 BB/9, 13.6 SO/9, and 0.8 fWAR over 41 2/3 innings of relief. Through Friday, his 63 strikeouts rank seventh-most among qualified relievers in the American League.

Aquino, 20, signed a minor league contract with the A’s in 2016 and is currently working through an assignment with the rookie-level AZL Athletics Green. He’s logged 10 appearances so far in 2019 with a 4.58 ERA, 5.6 BB/9, and 10.2 SO/9 across 17 2/3 innings.

Blanco, 26, signed an agreement with the Athletics during the 2017 offseason. The outfielder made his Double-A debut in 2019, batting .276/.342/.468 with seven homers, 27 stolen bases (in 34 chances), and an .811 OPS through his first 334 plate appearances of the season.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds that the A’s ‘do not figure to stop with Diekman’ and have explored the possibility of adding another starting pitcher to their ranks. Both the Mets’ Zack Wheeler and Reds’ Tanner Roark are currently on their radar, though they’ll have competition for both with the trade deadline right around the corner. This is the second trade the Athletics have orchestrated with the Royals after exchanging infielder Kevin Merrell for right-hander Homer Bailey earlier this month.

Video: Kurt Suzuki breaks World Series Game 2 tie with long solo homer

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The postseason has a knack for finding unlikely heroes. Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki was 1-for-23 in the postseason entering Wednesday’s Game 2 of the World Series. The Nats and Astros each plated two runs in the first inning, then went otherwise scoreless through the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, with Justin Verlander returning to the mound, Suzuki demolished a high, 1-0 fastball just below the train tracks in left field at Minute Maid Park, breaking the 2-2 tie.

Verlander proceeded to walk Victor Robles, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to take his veteran starter out of the game. Ryan Pressly came in to attempt to keep it a one-run game.

The underdog Nationals held on to defeat the Astros 5-4 in Game 1. Another victory by the Nats in Game 2 would put the Astros — heavy favorites according to oddsmakers — in a big hole.

Update: Pressly walked the first batter he faced, Trea Turner. Adam Eaton successfully sacrifice bunted both runners over. After Anthony Rendon flied out to shallow center field, Hinch decided to issue his team’s first intentional walk of the entire year to Juan Soto, loading the bases. Howie Kendrick then hit what appeared to be an inning-ending ground out, but Alex Bregman booted the ball as he moved to his left. Turner scored to make it 4-2. The floodgates opened when Asdrúbal Cabrera lined a single to center field, bringing home two more runs to pad the lead to 6-2. While pitching to Ryan Zimmerman, Pressly uncorked a wild pitch to allow the two base runners to advance. Zimmerman followed up with a slow roller down the third base line which Bregman barehanded and proceeded to throw away. Two more runs scored. 8-2. Yiiiikes, Astros.