Cuddle up with the ’Cats |

Cuddle up with the ’Cats

With summer days just ahead and kids concluding the school year, there’s no better time to plan a trip down to Raley Field to cheer on the Sacramento River Cats as they battle to make it to the post season for the seventh consecutive year.

Approximately one-third of the way into the 2013 season, the Triple-A ball club for the Oakland Athletics currently sits atop the Pacific Coast League Southern Division standings with a three-game lead over the Las Vegas 51s and the Tucson Padres who are tied for second. The River Cats have been hot as of late, going 6-4 in their last 10 games.

Raley Field, located downtown across the Tower Bridge along the Sacramento River, offers all the atmosphere and excitement of a traditional ballpark venue without investing the time and cost of traveling to the Bay Area. Ticket prices start at just $8 for the outfield lawn section and go up as you move closer toward home plate. Guests are welcome to bring blankets and low-back chairs (no higher than nine inches off the ground) to lounge out on the grassy hillside. Concessions include hotdogs, hamburgers, garlic fires, nachos, cotton candy, ice cream and more.

Be sure to bring a baseball mitt because this season, the squad is second in the PCL with 72 home runs, largely thanks to center fielder Michael Choice, who has slugged 10 bombs and racked up 47 RBIs while batting .290. Stanford alum and left fielder Michael Taylor has launched six long balls and boasts a .309 batting average. Taylor has already been called up to the A’s for nine games this season where he picked up his 10th career big league hit.

This squad has plenty of offensive potency throughout its lineup. Catcher Stephen Vogt has proven to be a threat, batting .330 with 12 doubles and eight homers. Luke Montz is batting .313 with eight four-baggers and has played up for Oakland in 13 games this year, where he launched his second big league homer. In addition, third baseman Scott Moore has stepped up big and contributed with eight long balls and 39 RBIs, while newly acquired shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima from Japan has started to heat up with a .291 average.

On the mound, the River Cats are led by Vanderbilt alum Sonny Gray, who has a 6-4 record and a 2.48 ERA, the second-best in the PCL. Gray has struck out 77 batters through 76 1/3 innings and walked just 26. Daniel Otero has thrown strong in the closing role, having picked up 15 saves with an 0.99 ERA through 27 1/3 innings. Sacramento’s pitching staff has a 4.07 team ERA.

The River Cats (38-29) just rolled back into town from a two-week road trip and now host a four-game series versus Tacoma with first pitch at 7:05 p.m today. All Friday games also feature a firework show afterward. Now is the perfect time to catch the baseball fever and enjoy the convenience of being close to home as the team plays 15 of its next 19 games in Sacramento.

During tonight’s game, the River Cats expect their 10 millionth fan to walk through the gates. The organization will have reached the eight-figure attendance mark faster than any other minor league club.

For information on the River Cats, visit

To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email

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