Evening Shade: Pirates look to rebound in key series against Cards, Josh Beckett debuts for Dodgers

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Some weekday evenings, the Stew looks at the storylines that will be worth monitoring that night. Feel free to discuss the night's action in the comments below.

Do the Pirates have any fight left?: Pittsburgh's chances of making the postseason may have fallen to a disheartening 16 percent, but they're not out of it yet. Despite losing 12 of their last 17 games, the Pirates trail the Cardinals by only two games entering Monday night's start of the three-game series between the two teams at PNC Park. The Bucs need a series victory in the worst way if their September is going to be about anything more than just collecting the 14 victories they need to end the franchise's infamous drought.

White Sox begin important road trip: The dressed-to-impress Pale Hose have been remarkably consistent atop the tight AL Central, holding the division lead for all but seven days since the start of June. The White Sox's 2.5-game lead over the Tigers will get a major test this week, though, as the team starts a four-game series against wild-card contender Baltimore and then a three-game weekend set in Motown.  The Orioles have been hot, winning 10 of their last 13 home games and going 17-8 during the month of August.
Josh Beckett's first start for Los Angeles: Everyone has been saying that Beckett's pitching will benefit from a switch to the National League, but his debut comes in the less-than-forgiving altitude of Colorado's Coors Field. Monday night's start is also bound to stir up a few Red Sox memories for Beckett, even as he pledges to put the past behind him: His last start in the Mile High City came when he started (and won) Game 1 of the 2007 World Series.

Tampa Bay and Texas, together again: The Rays and Rangers have met in each of the last two postseasons with Texas walking away with an ALDS victory each time. They could meet again this October, but the Rays will have to get through this series (plus another month of hot wild-card and Yankee-challenging action) first. Derek Holland and David Price will start the festivities at Rangers Ballpark.

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