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The Dodgers are one win away from clinching the NLDS

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The Dodgers are one win away from securing their ticket to the National League Championship Series next week. They battled their way to an 8-5 finish in Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday, taking a 2-0 lead in the series with a smattering of base hits and productive outs against Arizona lefty Robbie Ray.

Fellow left-hander Rich Hill took the mound for the first time this postseason, eking out three hits, two runs and three walks over four innings. That’s about par for the course for a Rich Hill postseason appearance: prior to Saturday’s outing, he made four appearances with the 2007 Cubs and 2016 Dodgers and only tossed a quality start once. This time, both of his runs came in the first inning when Paul Goldschmidt engineered a two-run homer. Hill didn’t allow another runner past second base for the remainder of his start and set down a perfect fourth inning before Dave Roberts yanked him for Tony Cingrani in the fifth.

That didn’t appear to faze the lefty, who started moonlighting as the club’s hype man for the rest of the night.

The real entertainment, however, lay with one Yasiel Puig, whose fourth-inning at-bat encapsulated the zaniness of playoff baseball fever. Puig did a little dance around the plate as Robbie Ray worked an 0-2 count, then drove a single into center field to load the bases. He, uh, may have gotten a little carried away in the process:

Ray, on the other hand, didn’t look like he was having quite as much fun. He barely outlasted Hill on the mound, taking his first loss of the postseason with 4 1/3 innings of four-hit, four-run, four-walk ball. Rookie right-hander Jimmie Sherfy was no better, issuing three additional runs in the fifth to boost the Dodgers’ lead to 7-2.

The Diamondbacks finally found their mojo in the seventh inning with another home run from Brandon Drury, who plated Jake Lamb and Ketel Marte with a first-pitch cutter from Brandon Morrow. That wasn’t nearly enough to overturn the Dodgers’ advantage, though, and the D-backs dropped their second consecutive game after Josh Fields and Kenley Jansen tag-teamed for a scoreless eighth and ninth.

They’ll get one more chance to stay alive in the NLDS on Monday, when Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20 ERA) goes up against Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86) for Game 3 at 10:00 PM ET. If they manage to stun the Dodgers with three straight wins, it’ll be the first time they’ve advanced to the Championship Series since 2007. If not, however, the Dodgers will be looking at their second NLCS appearance since 2016 and fifth since 2008.

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.