Rays pull tarps, place more tickets on sale
More upper-deck seats made available for ALDS finale
ST. PETERSBURG -- For the deciding Game 5 of their American League Division Series against the Rangers, the Rays are pulling the tarps from the upper deck and adding 5,000 seats to the capacity at Tropicana Field, creating what they hope will be an added home-field advantage.
That could be especially beneficial at this juncture, with the road team winning the first four games in the series.
As is typically the case in domed stadiums, there can be a distinct advantage when the crowd is large and loud.
Since 2008, the Rays are 45-18 (.714 winning percentage) when they play at home in front of 30,000 fans or more.
In Game 1, the crowd was 35,474, followed by 35,535 in Game 2. For the winner-take-all match, which features an epic matchup of aces Cliff Lee against David Price, the attendance should top 40,000.
"Well, I think the numbers speak for themselves," said third baseman Evan Longoria. "I was just looking at that sheet over there and it said we were like -18 or something when this place is sold out or above 30,000. That speaks for itself and the home-field advantage aspect."
The crowd at the Trop was subdued for the first two games, but that was mainly because the Rangers took control early and the Rays never really threatened.
"We've just got to play a little bit better baseball," Longoria said. "I mean, the first two games at home, offensively we were stagnant, and the pitchers did their best to keep us in the game. But I mean, that's a pretty good lineup over there, and to watch zero after zero of your team putting up no runs and then go out there with no runs supported, it's tough to keep a team like the Rangers at bay."
Longoria and his teammates hope the flow of this game will be entirely different.
"I think the quicker that we can jump out and put some runs on the board, you know, the more comfortable that pitching staff is going to feel, and in turn the home-field advantage is really going to start to show," Longoria said.
Manager Joe Maddon's eyes lit up when he heard about the added seats.
"It's loud the way it is. That makes it even louder," Maddon said. "Those people are even closer to the roof."