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Previewing Thursday’s meaningful baseball

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Two teams clinched their playoff tickets last night: the Cubs and Twins. There’s still a bit more meaningful baseball left to be played, though. Here’s what’s on the line on Thursday.

AL East (92-66 Red Sox lead 89-69 Yankees by three games)

The Red Sox can clinch tonight with a win and a Yankees loss.

NL Wild Card (86-73 Rockies lead 83-75 Brewers by 2.5 games, 82-76 Cardinals by 3.5 games)

The Rockies are off Thursday, so they can’t clinch today. However, the Cardinals can be eliminated today with a loss to the Cubs. The Rockies will need any combination of two wins and two Brewer losses to knock the Brewers out.

AL Home Field Advantage (100-59 Indians lead 98-60 Astros by 1.5 games)

The Indians won on Thursday afternoon, so the Astros will try to keep pace tonight.

World Series HFA (102-57 Dodgers lead Indians by two games)

The Dodgers are off today and the Indians already played, so nothing will change tonight.

Mookie Betts, Javier Baez leading off the All-Star lineups

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I can’t imagine what it’s like to fill out the lineup card for an All-Star team. Most of the guys are 1-4 hitters on their own teams, but you gotta slot most of them someplace lower. Egos are probably a consideration. Strategic stuff. “Which top of the order or middle of the lineup hitter is batting eighth?” is both a difficult and thankless question.

Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch have to do it anyway, and today they released the All-Star lineups. Seeing Bryce Harper batting sixth and Manny Machado batting seventh is just not part of the usual baseball experience:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Mike Trout, CF
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Aaron Judge, LF
7. Manny Machado, SS
8. Jose Abreu, 1B
9. Salvador Perez, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Javier Baez, 2B
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Bryce Harper, CF
7. Nick Markakis, RF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Willson Contreras, C

Not that this is gonna hold for long what with all of the substitutions.