Rays could chase postseason berth in final three-game home series

The Tampa Bay Rays conclude the 2012 regular season with a three-game series beginning on Monday, October 1, against the American League Wild Card leading Baltimore Orioles (October 1–3).

The Rays have won 8 straight games, during which they have improved from a season-high 6.0 games back of the second Wild Card spot to 2.0 back with six games to play.  They are attempting to reach the postseason for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

During the final three regular season Rays home games (October 1–3), the Rays Baseball Foundation and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Educational Foundation (FRLAEF) will continue to raise money for their annual “Shirts Off Our Backs” promotion.  There will be over 300 volunteers on hand, wearing blue “Shirts Off Our Backs” T-shirts, at Tropicana Field throughout the six-day fundraiser that started on Friday, September 21.  All fans who donate will receive scratch-off cards giving them the opportunity to win a wide variety of prizes donated by numerous sponsors totaling more than $250,000 in value.  Included in the prizes are game-worn jerseys signed by Rays players, which the players will personally present to the winners at the conclusion of the Rays-Orioles game on October 3.  Proceeds will benefit both foundations supporting youth and education programs.

On Monday, October 1, the Rays will recognize the University of South Florida softball team for reaching the Women’s College World Series for the first time in school history.  Managed by head coach Ken Eriksen, the Bulls finished the season 50-14.

On Tuesday, October 2, the Rays will honor the team’s Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Paul C. Smith Champion Award—recognizing the Rays player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.  These awards are voted on and given by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).  Tampa Bay Times beat writer and local BBWAA chairman Marc Topkin will present the accolades during an awards ceremony prior to the game against the Orioles.

TICKETS—Tickets for Rays 2012 regular season home games are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Rays Tampa Store (400 N. Tampa St.) and the Gate 1 Tropicana Field Box Office, as well as over the phone at 888-FAN-RAYS and 1-800-745-3000, or online at raysbaseball.com.

ESPN RANKS RAYS FIRST IN AFFORDABILITY—Earlier this month, ESPN the Magazine’s tenth annual “Ultimate Standings” ranked the Rays as the No. 1 professional sports team in Affordability, out of 122 Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises.  It marks the sixth consecutive year that the Rays have been ranked in ESPN’s top three in Affordability.  The Rays were also ranked No. 1 in 2009.

GATES OPEN—Monday through Thursday gates open 1½ hours prior to game time.