George Springer is finally beginning to make legit progress in his recovery from a fractured right wrist.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch told Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle on Sunday afternoon that the 25-year-old outfielder is lined up to take batting practice ahead of the Astros’ series opener against the Yankees on Monday evening in New York.
“It’s very encouraging,” said Hinch. “That’s when it starts to feel real that he’s becoming more and more of an active player, when his normal routine is like any other player on our team. … I’m thrilled with the progress that he’s made.”
Springer has been on the disabled list since July 2, a day after he took an Edinson Volquez pitch off his right arm. He was sporting an .822 OPS, 13 homers, and 14 steals in 75 games before the injury.
Springer should be ready to rejoin the AL West-leading Astros in early September.
Astros right-hander Lance McCullers was optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi on August 3 after failing to make it out of the first inning in a disastrous start against the Rangers. Houston’s braintrust wanted the 21-year-old to take a breather and come back ready to assist in the club’s final push for its first ever American League West title. That push is now on.
McCullers — owner of a cool 3.17 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 79 strikeouts over his first 76 2/3 major league frames — has been recalled from the Double-A level and will start against Clayton Kershaw in Sunday’s series finale against the visiting Dodgers.
Houston got to Zack Greinke on Saturday for a 3-1 victory and Mike Fiers threw a no-hitter on Friday. This is coming together as a statement series for the ‘Stros here in late August.
As of Sunday morning, they hold a four-game lead in the AL West.
In the NL West, the Dodgers’ lead over the Giants is just 1 1/2.
Astros starter Mike Fiers no-hit the Dodgers on Friday night, but his achievement was quickly downplayed on social media when an image showing what appeared to be a shiny substance on the inside of the right-hander’s glove. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly never questioned it, nor did anyone else on the team, during the game.
Asked about the alleged substance after the game, Fiers said, “It could be different lighting or something,” as Jose de Jesus Ortiz reports.
Even after the fact, the Dodgers aren’t interested in pursuing the matter. Via Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
“I don’t want to take anything away from his night,” outfielder Carl Crawford said.
Manager Don Mattingly also viewed the social media-driven controversy as a non-issue, saying, “I think it sounds like you’re whining if you look at it and talk about it.”
The consensus around the clubhouse was that a significant number of pitchers use something to improve their grip on the ball.
“I think it’s pretty much accepted, unless it’s blatantly obvious somebody’s doing it,” Mattingly said.
Fiers donated his cap and one of the balls he threw during the no-hitter to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Those and other items were authenticated, as Astros manager of authentication Mike Acosta tweeted on Friday night.
Yankees starter Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games last season when he was caught using a “foreign substance” on his neck.
Former major league catcher John Baker, when asked to cite the percentage of pitchers who liked using a foreign substance, said, “100%.”
Astros right-hander Mike Fiers threw the 11th no-hitter in franchise history last night as part of a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers. Watch all 27 outs of the feat below:
Fiers needed a career-high 134 pitches in order to get it done. Not only was last night his first no-hitter, it was also his first complete game in 59 career starts.
Fiers, who was acquired along with Carlos Gomez from the Brewers last month, now has a 2.42 ERA and 25/9 K/BB ratio in 26 innings over three starts and one relief appearance since joining the Astros.
Update (10:43 PM EST): Jimmy Rollins hit a deep fly ball to right field to lead off the ninth inning, but it was tracked down by Jake Marisnick. New Dodger Chase Utley hit another fly ball to Marisnick which required much less effort to corral. For the final out of the no-hitter, Fiers got Justin Turner to strike out to end the game.
In Fiers’ nine shutout, hitless innings, he walked three and struck out 10 on 134 pitches.
Update (10:25 PM EST): Fiers struck out Carl Crawford, Enrique Hernandez, and Joc Pederson consecutively to get through the eighth inning. He’s at 120 pitches and has struck out the last five batters he has faced.
Astros starter Mike Fiers has no-hit the Dodgers through seven innings. He has walked three and struck out six on 107 pitches.
The Astros have given Fiers three runs of support, coming on two home runs. Jake Marisnick went yard with a man aboard in the second inning against Brett Anderson, and Evan Gattis tacked on a solo shot off of Anderson in the sixth.
Fiers is attempting to become the first pitcher to complete a no-hitter for the Astros since Darryl Kyle on September 8, 1993. The Astros had a combined no-hitter involving Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner on June 11, 2003.
We’ll keep you updated as Fiers attempts to keep the Dodgers off the board in the final two innings. The Astros acquired Fiers along with Carlos Gomez from the Brewers on July 30 in exchange for Domingo Santana and minor leaguers Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, and Adrian Houser.