BREAKING NEWS FROM PATRICK CREIGHTON

Sources:  Astros CF George Springer’s injury worse than reported; thumb is “unstable"

The Astros may be without George Springer for a while. Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Astros CF George Springer’s thumb injury is much more serious than the team has let on.

Sources on Thursday informed me that Springer has ligament damage in his thumb, and that his thumb is “unstable.”  They also indicated that this injury would normally have a much longer recovery timetable - 6-8 weeks on the shorter end.  It has only been three weeks since Springer suffered the initial injury.

Springer appeared to be in a significant amount of pain when he injured his thumb on a head first slide on August 5th.  He then missed the next eight games on the DL.  

Springer returned to the lineup without going on a rehab stint, which was unusual.  Jose Altuve played one game at Triple-A Fresno to get his timing back before rejoining the lineup.

Springer came off the DL and returned to the lineup on Aug. 17, playing in three games.  He went a combined 3-of-13 with one run and one RBI.  He did not start on Aug. 20th vs Seattle, although manager AJ Hinch said he was available to pinch hit. Springer has not played the last three games.

Patrick Creighton hosts “Late Hits” on ESPN 97.5 Houston weeknights 7-9p, and “Straight Heat” on SB Nation Radio weekdays 4-7p CT.  Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1


 

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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