Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays fall in front of full house on night of Orlando tribute (w/ video)

ST. PETERSBURG — Curt Casali stood in the bullpen with starting pitcher Chris Archer moments before Friday night's game and watched as the names of those killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando appeared on the video board in rightfield.

"It actually brought a tear to my eye," Casali, the Rays catcher, said.

Tropicana Field was filled with more fans than normal because the tarps in the upper deck were removed to accommodate those who took advantage of the $5 tickets as part of the Pride Night tribute to the victims of the Orlando mass shooting.

"Today was more than baseball," Casali said after Tampa Bay's 5-1 loss to the Giants. "It was about honoring those who were taken from us too early in a terrible scenario that nobody can really put in words."

Donations from the sales of the $5 tickets as well as those made by the fans in attendance totaled more than $300,000, the team said.

"I'm proud that we raised so much money," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "That's great for all the tragedy that's taken place over there the last week."

The Trop normally seats 31,402 for baseball. Friday's game attracted 40,135 — the largest crowd to see the Rays (31-34) play since they drew 41,845 to Game 5 of the 2010 American League Division Series against the Rangers. It was their largest crowd for a regular-season game since they drew 40,199 in 2006 for the home opener.

"For what they came here for and what we acknowledged before the game, it was a really nice evening," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It is just a tragedy what happened, and to see how people came together, united and poured out their hearts for what happened in Orlando, it really made it a special night."

Giants starter Jeff Samardzija made it a quick night. He allowed four hits and came within an out of a shutout until Orlando native Brad Miller homered for the Rays' lone run.

The Giants took advantage after Archer walked Brandon Belt with two outs in the first inning, scoring a pair of runs when Brandon Crawford followed Buster Posey's double with a two-run double.

"I think if I don't walk that guy then things are a little bit different," Archer said. "But Buster Posey hit a good pitch there, and the pitch they scored on was not a very well-struck ball.

"I felt like if I forced them to put the ball in play, I'm able to minimize the damage and keep it a little closer from the beginning."

A leadoff walk and a catcher's interference on Casali in the fourth inning — "A bonehead move on my part," Casali said — led to two more runs.

Cash said the walks, especially the one in the first inning, can't happen.

"You get two outs, you got a chance for a quiet, clean first inning to kind of set the tone, and we didn't," Cash said. "We're going to give up hits, no doubt. That's going to happen. But the walks we have to prevent, especially when they lead to runs."

   
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