DETROIT — The response to the Rays’ $5 flash sale was apparently not overwhelming, as the allotment of 5,000 discounted tickets for the next five home games was sold out for only two of them, June 13 and 14, in the final hours before the offer ended Thursday night.
But the players appreciated the effort by their bosses to get more people to the ballpark.
“I think it’s a great idea,’’ said centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, the longest tenured Ray. “I think it’s a great thing to do for us players. With our record and what we’ve done so far this year we like to think we deserve to play in front of a great home crowd. When I say that, meaning 20,000 plus.
“So hopefully we draw very well. We’re trying to give people as many reasons possible to make the trip to the Trop as much as possible from here on out. Because this is a special group and we have the potential to do some great things, what we’ve done this year and throughout the rest of the year.’’
The Rays’ average of 13,802 fans per game ranks 29th in the majors, ahead of only the Marlins. The last homestand featured the two lowest crowds in franchise history, 5,786 on May 28 and 6,166 the next night.
“I think it’s kind of been expressed through many media outlets, even MLB Network, you kind of see what our record is with what our attendance is,’’ Kiermaier said. “We know what we go up against with our attendance and all that. It’s never been an easy thing for us to draw great crowds. But at the same time we appreciate the people who do come out and support us all the time. …
“It’s always nice playing in front of more people. … Hopefully people come out. As (radio man) Dave Wills says, “Let’s raise some wattage in this cottage.’ So we’re going to try to raise the wattage. Try to put on a show for everyone. Go out there and do what we do.
“And hopefully start seeing more seats filled as the season goes on. I always tell these guys, the more we win the more people are going to show up.’’
‘In deep’ on Kimbrel but not enough
The Rays were serious in maintaining interest in and contact with free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel, who ended up with the Cubs for $43 million over three years, plus an option. The Rays, per one industry executive, were “in deep.’’ MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal said they were the runner-up, offering a reported $31 million over two years with an option, and $39 million over three.
Pham returns; Rays hope at less than full speed
The Rays were pleased to have Tommy Pham back in the lineup for the first time since May 30 as he recovered from a right calf strain, though he went 0-for-5 as the DH. More important will be keeping him in there, which is predicated on the always intense outfielder throttling back his usual all-out style of play. “I hope,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve talked multiple times about it. We ask everybody to get down the line and bust it effort-wise. But there’s a balance there. I think Tommy’s been around long enough to recognize when he’s got a chance to beat a ball out and probably when he doesn’t. Let’s hope that he can be smart, because we can’t afford to lose him any more than what we just did.’’
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Numbers of the day
Records for Rays when scoring first, and when scoring in the first inning.
• AL-leading hitter Austin Meadows knocked in the first Rays run and extended his on-base streak to 13 games.
• Shortstop Willy Adames, a rising Tigers prospect when traded to the Rays in July 2014, enjoyed his first series in Detroit, homering in two of the three games.
• Infielder Joey Wendle, out since breaking his right wrist April 25, was set to start his rehab assignment Thursday night with the advanced Class A Stone Crabs, playing seven innings at second base.
• The Rays won a series in Detroit for just the second time in nine years.
• Double-A Montgomery outfielder Brett Sullivan hit for the cycle Wednesday, homering in his last at-bat. It was the second cycle in Biscuits history, the first by Eliot Johnson in the 2006 playoffs.
• Expect the Rays to add a fresh arm for Friday’s game, calling up Casey Sadler and sending down Hunter Wood. They also will add a 26th man, likely another pitcher (Austin Pruitt?), for Saturday’s doubleheader.