False alarm: Emilio Bonifacio could return from thumb injury in two or three weeks

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UPDATE: Things were looking pretty bleak after Bonifacio sprained his left thumb, but the Marlins received some good news this afternoon. According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, the sprain isn’t as severe as initially believed and Bonifacio could be back in about two or three weeks.

10:48 AM: The Marlins’ season just keeps getting worse, as Emilio Bonifacio left the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader against the Nationals after aggravating a left thumb injury while trying to make a diving play at second base in the ninth inning.

Bonifacio already missed nearly two months earlier this season following surgery to repair torn ligaments in the same thumb. According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Bonifacio was diagnosed with a sprained thumb and was in tears after the game. Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he isn’t expecting him back this season.

“When he was on the ground, I knew something was bad,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I just saw it right away. Same thumb. Same injury. I don’t expect him back this year.”

Bonifacio has mostly played center field this year, but he recently took over the starting second base job after Omar Infante was traded to the Tigers. The 27-year-old speedster is hitting .261/.335/.321 with one home run, 11 RBI and a .655 OPS this season. He’s tied for second in the majors with 30 stolen bases, despite appearing in just 61 games.

Nick Green is expected to be called up from Triple-A New Orleans to replace Bonifacio on the active roster. The 33-year-old infielder is a .237 hitter in the majors, but he’s batting .344/.397/.599 with 12 homers and a .996 OPS in 63 games with the Zephyrs this season.

Nationals complete NLCS sweep of Cardinals, punch ticket to World Series

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The Nationals will officially appear in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The team that had a 19-31 record in late May, putting manager Dave Martinez on the hot seat, improbably fought back to snag a Wild Card slot, won the play-in game, beat the heavily-favored Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and polished off a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Tuesday night, winning 7-4.

After Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless top of the first inning, the Nationals’ offense wasted no time getting to work. Single, double, sacrifice fly, RBI double, intentional walk, reach on error, RBI single, two-run single, sacrifice bunt, two-run single. That’s how the Nats hung a seven-spot in the opening frame against Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

To the Cardinals’ credit, they cleaned things up from there. The Nationals would not score for the rest of the game while the Cardinals clawed back for a run in the fourth before plating three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina went yard off of Corbin in the fourth. In the fifth, a Tommy Edman ground out and a José Martínez two-run double accounted for the Cardinals’ runs in the fifth.

Corbin ultimately gave up the four runs on four hits and three walks with, impressively, 12 strikeouts across five innings of work. Tanner Rainey worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Sean Doolittle did the same in the seventh.

Doolittle remained in the game in the eighth, getting the first two outs before relenting a single to Marcell Ozuna. Right-hander Daniel Hudson entered for the four-out save opportunity. Hudson hit Molina with a fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Paul DeJong. DeJong worked a full count, then walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter emerged from the dugout to take his cuts against Hudson. After five tense pitches to Carpenter, Hudson got him to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Nats went down quick in the bottom of the eighth. Hudson emerged from the dugout to send the Nationals into the World Series. He did just that, getting Kolten Wong to fly out to shallow left field for the first out. Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher in fair territory for out number two. At long last, Edman flied out to center field. Nationals win 7-4.

The only other time the franchise reached the Championship Series was in 1981 when the Expos lost three games to two to the Dodgers. The Expos/Nationals then went from 1982-2011 without a playoff appearance. The Nationals lost four Division Series appearances in a row in 2012, ’14, and ’16-17, three of which went the maximum five games. Now they’re in the World Series, improbably. They will await the winner of the ALCS, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.