The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 1 of the American League Divisional playoff round Friday.
With the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m., many fans were resigned to catching score updates in between meetings. But some gathered just across the street from Tropicana Field at Ferg’s Sports Bar in St. Petersburg to show their support.
“Our team is so versatile. If our bats get hot, it’s going to be hard to stop us,” said season ticket holder Edwin Herrington. “People can think we’re underdogs, but we’ve won 96 games this year. The team is going into the playoffs with a lot of momentum and I feel good about our chances.”
Even with the success, the Rays still had a hard time drawing fans to the Trop – the Rays had the second lowest average attendance in MLB, ahead of only the Florida Marlins.
After a staring at a sea of empty seats all season, Herrington hopes that the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 will get people to start showing up to the games.
"Being season ticket holders we see the crowds kind of fluctuate but hopefully this will build the excitement in the area that will get people out and support the team,” he said.
Pam Williams - a fan since the team's inception – thinks getting people to show up comes down to convenience.
"I think people are just comfortable staying at home and watching it on TV. And it can be expensive, you know, to go to a game. And there's a lot of games,” she said.
But Michael Fox believes there's just not that much excitement about baseball.
"We're a transient area with a lot of people from New York and Chicago and all of that. And those are the people who come to our games more than we do, unfortunately,” he said.
Tickets for Monday’s game at Tropicana Field are nearly sold out.
The Rays are hosting a pair of watch parties for Saturday’s Game 2 on both sides of Tampa Bay.
In St. Petersburg, fans can head over to Al Lang Stadium for a Baseball under the Stars watch party. Bottled water, sodas and popcorn are free and attendees are welcome to bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Fans in Tampa can watch the game on the big screen at Curtis Hixton Waterfront Park.
First pitch is at 9:08 p.m.