Out since April 8 following thumb surgery, Josh Hamilton is off the disabled list and back in the Angels’ starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Astros.
J.B. Shuck initially took over as the primary left fielder in Hamilton’s absence, but when he struggled the Angels turned to converted infielder Grant Green to handle the position and he’s hit .361 in 21 games.
Hamilton’s return was delayed when he bruised his thumb while rehabbing in the minors, but he ended up going 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles in three rehab games.
Hamilton, who signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels last offseason, has hit .259 with 23 homers and a .764 OPS since the deal while playing 159 of a possible 218 games.
Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.
According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.
It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.
The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.