NEW YORK -- Following much speculation and optimism that the Rays would return home after Wednesday's game against the Yankees, official word trickled in about an hour before their 3-2 loss at Citi Field.The team is indeed heading back to St. Petersburg to begin a five-game homestand at Tropicana Field
NEW YORK -- Following much speculation and optimism that the Rays would return home after Wednesday's game against the Yankees, official word trickled in about an hour before their 3-2 loss at Citi Field.
The team is indeed heading back to St. Petersburg to begin a five-game homestand at Tropicana Field following Hurricane Irma, which swept through the entire state of Florida earlier this week.
The storm, classified as a Category 4 once it hit the shores of the Sunshine State, forced the Rays to play the Yankees at Citi Field and has left parts of Pinellas County without power as of Tuesday.
"It'll be good," manager Kevin Cash said after Wednesday's game. "I think everybody, to a man, was ready to go home. It's not like we've been on the road for that extended period of a time. It was six days, no big deal."
Even so, the uncertainty of the situation, mixed with the on-the-fly adjustment of playing the series in New York, made these six days feel longer, admitted Cash, who complimented the Mets for their accommodations, as well as the many others who made playing in Queens run smoothly.
"Can't say enough about the Mets, the organization, the staff, everybody that played their part," he said. "Chris Westmoreland, our traveling secretary, has been extremely accommodating -- and the Yankees, they allowed this situation to happen. Obviously, we'd like to come out of here with a series win. We didn't, but it's been impressive watching everybody here in New York."
After an off-day on Thursday, the Rays will play the Red Sox from Friday through Sunday, as scheduled, before welcoming the defending World Series champion Cubs for a two-game series beginning on Tuesday.
Wednesday starter Chris Archer, who took the loss, said the players are excited to be heading home. He added that the series against Boston holds more weight for their postseason hopes after they dropped two of three in New York.
"I don't know if the right word is 'relief,' but it is nice to finally get home," Archer said. "I don't think there's anybody feeling relieved after we lost two of three given our current situation.
"I still think we have a team that is capable. We control our own destiny, and that's all we need to be focused on -- you know what, turn the page. There were some good things, there were some bad things, but turn the page, and go get the Red Sox on Friday."
Fans holding tickets to the relocated series against the Yankees can exchange them for the same number of tickets to any of the Red Sox games this weekend or for the final series of the season with the Orioles. The club will donate the value of the exchanged tickets to a local Hurricane Irma relief fund in the name of the ticket-holder. Full refunds are also available upon request.
Fans who would like to donate to the victims of Hurricane Irma in the Tampa Bay region can visit youcaring.com/RaysIrmaRelief.
Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York and covered the Rays on Wednesday. Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.