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Red Sox at Nationals lineups: Win and win and in

There’s no ambiguity about how big this game is. It’s go time, or go-home time.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Washington Nationals
More fireworks, please.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox can take another step toward a playoff berth with a win over the Nationals this afternoon in Washington (4:05 p.m., NESN).

With two days to go, the Sox can clinch a wildcard berth with two straight wins. Given the chaos of the last two months, the clarity is refreshing, at least in the few hours before the game starts. Then it’s back to nail-biting.

The pitching plan for the game was unclear on the Red Sox side until close to game time, though the Nationals had Josiah Gray ready to go early on. The Sox ultimately decided on Tanner Houck, whose lack of control exactly one week ago imperiled the Sox’s postseason chances, but, like Nathan Eovaldi before him, now has a chance to make amends.

I don’t know what else to say here except Kyle Schwarber’s at first so cross your fingers that everything works out okay. He probably will have a lot to say to Juan Soto, likely about walks.

Game 161 at Nationals

Lineup spot Red Sox Nationals
Lineup spot Red Sox Nationals
1 Kiké Hernández, 2B Lane Thomas, CF
2 Kyle Schwarber, 1B Alcides Escobar, SS
3 Xander Bogaerts, SS Juan Soto, RF
4 Rafael Devers, 3B Josh Bell, 1B
5 J.D. Martinez, RF Keibert Ruiz, C
6 Alex Verdugo, LF Andrew Stevenson, LF
7 Hunter Renfroe, CF Jordy Mercer, 2B
8 Christian Vázquez, C Carter Kieboom, 3B
9 Tanner Houck, P Josiah Gray, P
SP Tanner Houck, RHP Josiah Gray, RHP