Joe Mauer back in Twins’ lineup after sprained right thumb

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According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, Joe Mauer is back in the Twins’ starting lineup this afternoon against the Cubs. He’ll catch left-hander Scott Diamond and bat third against right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

Mauer has missed the last four games with a sprained right thumb, but it was never a major concern. He made it through batting practice yesterday with no issues.

Injuries and illness limited Mauer to just 82 games last year, but he has played in 52 of the Twins’ 56 games this season. The 29-year-old backstop is hitting .298/.407/.419 with three home runs, 25 RBI and an .826 OPS through 226 plate appearances.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.