ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon admits that the increased fans at Tropicana Field to start this season has in fact helped his team.
But there was one particular play late in Sunday’s game that could’ve hurt his Rays.
With two outs and Tampa Bay leading, 5-3, in the top of the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a pop up in foul territory to the third-base side. Evan Longoria ranged over and reached into the crowd, but the ball was caught by a fan before it could land in Longoria’s glove.
Afterwards, Longoria smacked the wall in frustration and looked back. Whether or not he could’ve caught it is unknown — and Troy Percival did end up getting the last out — but Maddon doesn’t want something like that to cost him the game while playing at home.
“I’d like to point out to the fans that when you’re on the third-base side, you don’t do those things,” Maddon said. “Really, our fans need to know that.
“That was a big play. You never want to give the Red Sox an extra out.”
With a crowd of 32,332 on Sunday, the Rays raised their season total to 317,533 through 11 home games. That total gives them an average of 28,867 per game and a 62.6 percent improvement through the same amount of games last season.
“I want them to understand they’re a big part of our success
– they really are,” Maddon said. “When they come out and this place rocks, it presents a
different attitude. It just does. It’s just the way professional life works.”
– Alden Gonzalez