If the Astros are going to top Jeff Samardzija and win the series Thursday afternoon against the first-place A's, they'll have to do it without George Springer.
Springer was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained left quad, leaving the Astros without one of their biggest offensive weapons. Springer was hitting .231 with 20 homers and 51 RBIs in 78 games.
The Astros are now without three key outfielders with Springer, Dexter Fowler and Alex Presley all on the shelf. Fowler has been on the DL since June 27 with a right intercostal strain, and Presley has been out since July 8 with a right oblique strain.
"We've pretty much lost our starting outfield," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "It's definitely next man up, an opportunity for some other guys to get some at-bats and see how they can do."
That means Marc Krauss and L.J. Hoes will split time in left, super utility player Enrique Hernandez will man center and Robbie Grossman will get most of the playing time in right field.
"It's really three guys that we've lost recently in the outfield, all of whom can [contribute] offensively and defensively," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "It's a big blow. I think this is the time that Grossman and Hoes and the rest of the guys have to step up. This is their opportunity. They're going to be playing every day and they need to show us they're capable of producing and helping this team win ballgames."
They'll have a tough test against Samardzija, who is making his fourth start with the A's since he was acquired from the Cubs on July 5.
The right-hander had difficulty in his most recent outing against the Orioles, allowing four runs on six hits in seven innings. The long ball also has been an issue for him in recent games, as he's allowed five home runs in his last four starts after allowing five in his previous 16.
Samardzija, 3-8 with a 2.91 ERA on the year, is 4-2 with a 3.65 ERA in 16 career appearances against the Astros.
For Houston, right-hander Scott Feldman will make his second start since the All-Star break.
He received a tough loss on Friday in Chicago despite allowing three runs and seven hits in seven innings. Four of his last five starts have been quality, and he has not allowed more than three earned runs in nine of his last 11 starts.
A's: Foot pain keeps Vogt from catching, not hitting
Stephen Vogt has a bone bruise in his right foot that has kept him from catching lately, but the A's need his bat in the lineup, and Vogt plans to continue playing through it.
"It's been going on for a while," Vogt said. "I wouldn't say there's any particularity, it's just my foot hurts. Just trying to get through it."
On Wednesday, Vogt started his first game of the year at designated hitter. A's manager Bob Melvin said Vogt has had the bone bruise before and aggravated it "a little while" ago.
"I think whenever I can DH him or something along those lines, hopefully it can get that much better," said Melvin. "Those things don't go away very quickly, and we certainly don't want to DL him, and he doesn't want to go on the disabled list."
Astros: Krauss returns after Springer injury
With Springer headed to the disabled list, Krauss rejoined the club Wednesday from Triple-A Oklahoma City and was plugged right into the lineup, hitting fourth and starting in left field.
It's the third stint with the Astros this year for Krauss, who broke camp with the club but was sent down because he was struggling at the plate.
"I'm definitely excited," he said. "This is why you put in all the hard work, to get to this level. I think it was beneficial for me to go down to Oklahoma City and work on some things and play every day and do all that stuff to get my confidence and rhythm back. I feel good. I wish George wasn't hurt. A lot of people are in that boat, but it's part of the game, and so I'm going to try to step in and do what I can to help the team win."
Krauss figures to get most of his playing time in left field, starting against right-handers while Hoes starts against lefties. Krauss was hitting .289 with five homers and 38 RBIs in 42 games at Oklahoma City.
"I became more aggressive at the plate," he said. "I was just trying to get my pitch and not miss it. For a while there I was doing pretty well. I was trying to continue to work on that and I'm going to try to use that same approach when I'm up here, and hopefully I can help the team any way I can."
• A's starting pitchers have allowed one earned run or none in 10 of the last 16 games.
• In 22 appearances (13 starts) against the A's, Feldman is 5-6 with a 6.10 ERA.
Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.