The Devil Rays considered their first foray into Central Florida a success, and that was before they won 4-3 over the Rangers in 10 innings.
"Eleven on a scale of 10," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "Without the win it would have been a great night. With the win, it's a day we'll mark in team history, a great signpost."
The Rays moved the three-game series to Kissimmee in an effort to expand their fan base regionally.
The announced attendance was 8,443, short of a sellout at the stadium that has 9,500 seats and room for several thousand more with lawn seating and standing room. A few hundred seats were unoccupied in the top corners of the stadium (which may be the result of being overpriced at $35), but the lower level was packed, and hundreds of people paid $15 to sit on the grassy hillside along the outfield wall.
Ticket windows had a steady crowd starting in the late afternoon, and the concession lines were so long additional stands are expected to be opened Wednesday night. At least several hundred, and perhaps up to 1,000, were comps, but the Rays said walkup sales were brisk.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said it went well.
"Much better than expected," he said. "In advance people came in feeling as though it would be less than a major league experience. I thought it was a major league experience. They did a great job setting it all up. I feel like I'm in a major league clubhouse. I felt the excitement of a major league crowd. I thought it was well done."
DEVIL RAYS 4, RANGERS 3 (10 innings): Shortstop Brendan Harris singled in the winning run in the 10th after the Rangers intentionally walked Dioner Navarro to load the bases. Brian Stokes got the win in relief.
CF Rocco Baldelli left the game in the first inning with a left hamstring strain and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. Baldelli was sidelined in spring training with a right hamstring problem and missed two months last year with a left hamstring strain. "It's tough," Baldelli said. "Sometimes it doesn't feel so bad. I give it a couple days and it improves and other times it doesn't. ... I'll probably know more when I wake up in the morning."
DH/1B Greg Norton completed a seven-game rehab assignment at Class AA Montgomery, but the Rays want to give him a few more days to overcome soreness in his right knee, which underwent surgery opening day. "There's nothing necessarily bad or wrong with it except that it got sore on him," manager Joe Maddon said. "It just backed him up. It's going to be a bit longer, but I don't think too much longer."
3B Akinori Iwamura, sidelined since late April with an oblique strain, took 10 swings of batting practice off a coach and could be back in the majors in two to three weeks.
SS Brendan Harris had his second winning hit in a Rays walk-off win, and had his first career four-hit night.
RHP James Shields threw eight or more innings for the fourth time in his last five starts. He has exited each of his eight starts with the lead or the team tied.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Runs scored by the Rays in first innings of their first 37 games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just don't know if he'd look good in those bikini briefs." -- INF Ty Wigginton, suggesting teammate Jonny Gomes would be a candidate to participate in the team's upcoming pro wrestling promotion.
CF Rocco Baldelli (left hamstring strain) left the May 15 game. He will be re-evaluated on May 16.
INF/DH Greg Norton (surgery on torn medial meniscus in right knee) began the season on the disabled list. He completed a rehab assignment with Class AA Montgomery in mid-May, but he was still feeling soreness.
3B Akinori Iwamura (straining right oblique) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 24, and he was expected to miss four to six weeks. He took batting practice on May 15.
RHP Shinji Mori (torn labrum) is rehabbing without surgery and might be ready by midseason.
RHP Doug Waechter (shoulder surgery) is rehabbing and is expected to be game-ready by June.