UPDATE: Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Nishioka has a fractured fibula and (obviously) is headed for the disabled list. At minimum he’ll be out for a month and possibly much longer. As expected, Hughes is coming up from Triple-A to replace him.
Moments after botching a tailor-made double play ball by bouncing the throw to first base, Tsuyoshi Nishioka got another chance to turn two and instead got upended by Nick Swisher’s takeout slide.
Nishioka did a remarkable job of not bailing on the play and made a strong throw to first base that almost nailed the runner, but then he went down in a heap and had to be helped off the field by his translator and the Twins’ trainer while not putting much weight on his leg.
Nishioka has struggled offensively and defensively so far, hitting just .208 with eight strikeouts and two errors at second base, but the Twins’ lack of infield depth means they can ill afford to lose him for an extended period.
Matt Tolbert replaced him at second base this afternoon and Luke Hughes, who lost the utility man competition to Tobert during spring training, would likely be called up to start at second base if Nishioka heads to the disabled list after the ugly collision.
The Red Sox plated five runs in the top of the eighth inning to put Game 3 of the ALCS out of the reach, taking an 8-2 victory over the Astros on Tuesday night in Houston. Four of those eighth-inning runs came on a grand slam to right field by Jackie Bradley, Jr. off of reliever Roberto Osuna, turning their two-run deficit into a back-breaking six-run deficit.
Both teams traded blows in the first inning, with the Red Sox plating two runs on a J.D. Martinez double and a Xander Bogaerts ground out against starter Dallas Keuchel. The Astros got a run back in the bottom half against starter Nathan Eovaldi when Marwin González brought home Jose Altuvé with a single.
Keuchel settled down from there. He ultimately gave up the two runs on four hits with a pair of walks and no strikeouts across five innings. Eovaldi wouldn’t give up another run until the fifth, when Alex Bregman doubled home Altuve. Eovaldi yielded the two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.
Steve Pearce, added to the lineup because of the left-handed Keuchel, smashed a solo home run down the left field line in the sixth against right-handed reliever Joe Smith, breaking the 2-2 tie. Two innings later, all hell broke loose against Osuna. Osuna got Martinez to fly out for the first out, allowed a single to Bogaerts, then got the second out when Pearce gorunded out to third base. Rafael Devers kept the inning alive with a single. Osuna loaded the bases by hitting Brock Holt with an 89 MPH slider, then forced in a run when he hit Mitch Moreland with a 96 MPH fastball. Bradley came up and worked a 1-1 count before depositing a 94 MPH fastball into the right field seats to drastically create space between the Red Sox and Astros.
In the bottom of the eighth, with a healthy five-run cushion, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly combined to keep the Astros off the board. Eduardo Rodríguez got the ball to start the ninth with a pair of lefties slated to bat. Tyler White pinch-hit for Brian McCann but struck out. Evan Gattis then pinch-hit for Tony Kemp and grounded out. Rodríguez cleaned out the inning by striking out George Springer, ending the game in an 8-2 victory for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox will take their 2-1 series lead into Houston on Wednesday night. Rick Porcello will oppose Charlie Morton for an 8:39 PM ET start. A Red Sox win tomorrow would bring them one win away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2013 and it would leave the defending champion Astros one loss away from elimination.