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Rays’ playoff picture comes into focus

Mark Parker



The Tampa Bay Rays faced the Toronto Blue Jays in one of their last home games. Since then, Duke Energy used Tropicana Field as a Hurricane Ian staging site and officials will now collect donations for storm victims at the stadium. Photo by Mark Parker.

Five days after clinching a spot in MLB’s postseason for the fourth straight year, the Tampa Bay Rays now know their opponent for the American League Wild Card Series.

The team also announced the times and locations of hurricane relief donation drives at several upcoming postseason events.

The Rays will face the AL Central Division Champion Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field Friday after making the playoffs as the AL’s No. 6 seed. Tampa Bay fell to the Boston Red Sox 6-0 in a rain-shortened game Tuesday night, the fourth straight loss since securing a playoff berth.

That loss, combined with a Seattle Mariners win over the Detroit Tigers in extra innings, secured a road matchup with the Guardians to start the 2022 postseason. Last week – while their home fans anxiously awaited the arrival of Hurricane Ian – the Rays set out on a nine-game road trip that began in Cleveland.

After dropping two of three games during that series, Tampa Bay, which won the last two AL East Division titles, will return to Progressive Field with hopes of an inverse outcome.

“It’s the opportunity to keep playing; it’s the opportunity to win a World Series,” said Erik Neander, president of baseball operations, to “This has not been our best regular season, but it gives us a chance to flip the script and make it our best postseason.”

MLB officials announced Wednesday that the first pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays (86-75) versus the Cleveland Guardians (91-70) series is at 12:07 p.m. Friday.

However, one game remains on both teams’ regular season schedules. The Rays face the Red Sox at 4:10 p.m. today in Fenway Park, although the team is already preparing for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay’s coaches decided to rest pitcher Drew Rasmussen for the finale in case they need him for the Wild Card Series. Aces Shane McClanahan and Tyler Glasnow will start the first two games of the best-of-three matchup.

The Rays suffered a cascade of injuries this year, and Glasnow did not make his first appearance of the season until Sept. 28. However, the star right-hander looked sharp against the Guardians in his first outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2021.

Glasnow pitched even better Monday against the Red Sox, striking out seven batters and walking just one in less than four innings of work. He will now start the second game of the Wild Card Series in Cleveland Saturday.

“I think that was the ultimate goal working back – to try to be in the playoffs,” said Glasnow to “And now that it’s here, I’m excited.”

Hurricane Ian relief efforts

Rays officials announced that the team would host hurricane relief donation drives at all its postseason events in St. Petersburg and Tampa this week. While the region experienced damaging winds and widespread power outages, the Rays hold Spring Training about 80 miles south in Port Charlotte, which received the brunt of the Category 4 storm’s impact.

The Rays and Tampa Bay Rowdies, which share ownership, have pledged $1 million to support those directly affected by Hurricane Ian.

“While we celebrate our fourth consecutive postseason appearance, we cannot forget all those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Ian,” said Stuart Sternberg, Rays principal owner, in a statement. “I’m proud that we are organizing, supporting and donating to relief efforts across Tampa Bay, and grateful to this wonderful community for coming together to support those in need.”

In partnership with the City of St. Petersburg and Tampa, the team will host two Rays Up Tampa Bay drive-through donation events Thursday at Tropicana Field and West Shore Plaza. Both events take place from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., and in addition to helping those in need, fans will receive exclusive postseason flags and yard signs.

The Rowdies will host a donation drive Saturday (Oct. 8) at their match against Loudoun United FC. Organizers will begin collecting items outside the Al Lang Stadium Box Office at 4 p.m. when parking lots open.

“That’s what is so great about our community,” said Mayor Ken Welch in a statement. “In times of need, we all come together. Thank you to our partners at the Rays for stepping up to lend their home base to collect supplies for our neighbors in Southwest Florida. While for many, recovery will not happen overnight, we stand committed to being an unwavering partner.”

According to the release, the team will list specific items requested by Feeding Tampa Bay, United Way of Charlotte County and Course of Action at Good Greek Moving & Storage will assist in collecting, storing and transporting donated items. Organizers will not accept bottled water.

St. Petersburg events

Welch is hosting a Rays Up the Flag ceremony Thursday at St. Petersburg City Hall. The event begins at 11:30 a.m., and team President Brian Auld will join the mayor as he raises a flag in support of the 2022 postseason run. City Hall is at 175 5th St. N.

Those attending Thursday evening’s Rays Up Tampa Bay drive-through event presented by Bayfront Health should enter Tropicana Field from Lots 6 and 7 from 3rd Avenue South. The stadium is at One Tropicana Drive in St. Petersburg.

The St. Petersburg Pier will play host to playoff watch parties Saturday, Oct. 8, and Sunday, Oct. 9, if necessary. The events begin 30 minutes before the first pitch. While MLB recently announced the first two games start at 12:07 p.m., fans should check for updated times.

Al Lang Stadium is at 230 1st St. SE. in St. Petersburg. While Rowdies’ officials will begin accepting donations at 4 p.m., the match against Loudoun FC on Hispanic Heritage Night kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, and Tampa locations, visit


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