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Bregman gets stitches after 'really nasty hop'

Infielder exits in 3rd inning; Astros stumble in first game back
@brianmctaggart
July 12, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Unfortunately for the Astros, the hardest contact of Thursday’s game may have come in the third inning when All-Star infielder Alex Bregman took a grounder off the chin and had to be removed from the game with a laceration that required stitches. Rangers pitcher Lance Lynn held the

ARLINGTON -- Unfortunately for the Astros, the hardest contact of Thursday’s game may have come in the third inning when All-Star infielder Alex Bregman took a grounder off the chin and had to be removed from the game with a laceration that required stitches.

Rangers pitcher Lance Lynn held the Astros to six hits over seven innings while striking out 11, and the Astros held their breath when Bregman’s chin absorbed the brunt of a third-inning Shin-Soo Choo grounder in a 5-0 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Park to start the second half of the season.

Box score

Bregman was briefly dazed by the grounder and wound up receiving four stitches in his chin, Astros manager AJ Hinch said. Bregman wasn’t available for comment.

“He was bleeding when I got out there,” Hinch said. “It took a really nasty hop for him. We’ll see how he is.”

The grounder off Choo’s bat, which had an exit velocity of 98.5 mph, skipped off the mound and took another bounce before striking Bregman, who was starting at shortstop but lined up on the other side of second base in a shift.

Bregman, who started at third base for the American League on Tuesday in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, entered the second half of the season hitting .265 with 23 homers and 56 RBIs before walking and hitting a single in his first two plate appearances Thursday against Lynn. Rookie Myles Straw took over for Bregman at shortstop.

Bregman touched the area around his left ear a couple of times after he was struck by the ball, and Hinch said the club will run the appropriate tests to determine if he has any other issues.

“He’ll get checked out for everything nowadays,” Hinch said. “Anything that happens like that you’re going to run through the process, the protocol. He’s going to see every specialist he needs to to make sure he’s OK.”

By the time Bregman left the game, the Astros were already down, 5-0, after Framber Valdez flopped in his return to the rotation. Valdez was unable to escape the first inning, giving up four runs, three walks and four hits. Chris Devenski (1 1/3 innings), Cy Sneed (five innings) and Josh James (one inning) held the Rangers to one run over the final 7 1/3 innings, but the Astros couldn’t recover from the first-inning hole.

“The walk to lead off the bottom of the first was the beginning of a bad stretch,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen this out of [Valdez]. The good version is really good, and the version that struggles it’s tough for him to manage innings and get out of innings and avoid the big inning. That’s been the big issue for him.”

The shutout loss was the sixth for the Astros this year, including two at the hands of the Rangers. They managed only one extra-base hit -- a seventh-inning double by George Springer (2-for-4).

“Lynn beat us with his fastball,” Hinch said. “He was pretty much coming right at us. He’s got a couple of different versions of it. His two-seamer is good, his four-seamer is good and he kind of rides a little bit and he throws a lot of them. He threw more fastballs tonight than he did the last time we faced him. He just beat us with the fastball, and we had a hard time putting any good inning together. They spotted him a four-run lead and he was in attack mode.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.