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George Springer hits 29th career leadoff homer

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Astros outfielder George Springer is on absolute fire. Since April 30 and prior to Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rangers, Springer was batting .381 with five homers and 11 RBI in 51 plate appearances. Of those five homers, two led off the Astros’ half of the first inning.

Springer kept it going on Sunday, belting a leadoff home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning off of Adrian Sampson. That marked Springer’s 29th career leadoff home run and his third in just the last week. In just his sixth season, he is more than halfway to Craig Biggio’s Astros record of 53 leadoff dingers. Springer would hit successfully in his next three trips to the plate as well, adding an RBI single in the second, and two more singles in the fourth and fifth innings. [Update: Springer hit a two-run homer in the sixth to boost the Astros’ lead to 15-3. He’s 5-for-5 on the afternoon.]

Springer has a long way to go if he wants to get the all-time record for leadoff homers. Rickey Henderson owns the title with 81. Biggio and Alfonso Soriano are tied for second with 53 each. More importantly, Springer has made himself an early-season MVP candidate, batting .316/.397/.639 with 14 home runs, 35 RBI, 33 runs scored, and four stolen bases in 184 plate appearances.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.