By C. Trent Rosecrans
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Rays of hope: "Big Game" James Shields has another chance to live up to his nickname, as the Rays start the day a game behind the Red Sox in the wild card standings. The Rays were nine games behind the Red Sox on Sept. 2, and if they are able to overtake the Red Sox, it would be the largest September deficit made up in the history of the game. Before Sunday, the last time the Rays were within a game of the wild card before Sunday was June 29. Shields faced the Yankees in his last start, allowing four runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings last Wednesday. He faced the Red Sox twice in a row before facing the Yankees (going 1-1) and faced the Rangers in back-to-back starts before that. He averaged eight innings and 2.5 runs per start in both of his second starts. Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET
Unwelcome sight: You're holding on to a one-game lead and hoping to stave off a collapse, who is the last person you want to see on the mound? If Cliff Lee isn't your first answer, he may be in the top five -- especially if you're hitting .229/.292/.350 as a team against left-handers, like the Braves are in 2011. And in the Braves' corner? A rookie making his seventh career start and coming off his first big-league win. Randall Delgado, a 21-year-old right-hander, has been impressive in his six starts, but has only pitched as many as six innings once. He pitched five shutout innings last week in a win over the Marlins. Phillies at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET
Closing fast: No player has thrived against his former team quite like St. Louis right fielder Lance Berkman, who returns for his seventh game in Houston this season. In his first six games back at Minute Maid Park? He's hit .480/.519/1.160 with five homers and 12 RBI. In eight total games agianst the Astros, he's hitting .429/.484/1.036. The Cardinals hope he stays that hot, as they enter the game just a game behind the Braves for the National League wild card. Houston holds baseball's worst record and are 12-14 in their last 26 games. St. Louis lefty Jaime Garcia is 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts this month, with St. Louis winning all four games he's started. St. Louis will face Houston's best starter, Wandy Rodriguez. In his only start against the Cardinals this season, Rodriguez allowed just one earned run on five hits in seven innings for a win on July 28 in St. Louis. Cardinals at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ETFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.