ST. PETERSBURG — The word Chris Archer used to describe what happened Tuesday night at Tropicana Field was "weird."
The tipoff came when Cubs C Willson Contreras walked out of the dugout a half-hour before first pitch and made his way to rightfield to warm up starting pitcher Mike Montgomery. He received a standing ovation.
"I didn't know we had that many people from Chicago, Illinois, Midwest area in Tampa, but I guess we do," Archer said. "But it was just weird for their players to come out and get announced and just get so much love. It was strange."
Archer said he felt like he was back in New York's Citi Field last week when the Rays were the "home" team in the series shifted north because of Hurricane Irma and found the crowd rooting for the Yankees.
Only this time it was the Cubs, and their legion of fans flocked to the Trop and made their presence felt in a 2-1 victory.
"I'm not being critical," Archer said. "It was just crazy how much royal blue there was out there."
Former Rays manager Joe Maddon made his return to the Trop, bringing with him the defending World Series champions. Throw in the fact that the Cubs were making only their second appearance in 20 years of baseball at the Trop, and you had a Chicago lovefest.
The game drew 25,046, the largest crowd at the Trop since opening day. Most did not root, root, root for the home team.
"We appreciate the fans for coming out," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It's a passionate fan base that the Chicago Cubs have, especially after winning the World Series. I think a lot of fan where here to show support to Joe, rightfully so."
As for the game, the Rays (73-78) were held to one hit, a sixth-inning homer by Brad Miller just to the left of the touch tank in centerfield, by Montgomery and three relievers.
"We're running out of time," RF Steven Souza Jr. said.
LHP Xavier Cedeno, who has not pitched since April 16 because of left forearm tightness, pitched a shutout inning for Durham in the Triple-A national title game, getting three groundouts after the leadoff batter reached on an error. The Rays said after the game he will be recalled and added to the 40-man roster, with a corresponding roster move to come. … SS Matt Duffy, who will miss the entire season while rehabbing from offseason heel surgery, took ground balls before batting practice. "He even dove for a ball," manager Kevin Cash said. "That's a big step right there." Duffy is scheduled to play in the Instructional League. The goal is to have him play winter ball.
Quote of the day
"I feel all of us still think there's a shot. We all want to do it. We're all in this together. We always felt there was a shot from the start and all the way to the end."
LHP Blake Snell (right) on the Rays' playoffs chances despite beginning play five games out of the final wild-card spot with 12 games left.
Number of the day
8 Left-handed starters the Rays will face in their last 11 games when they take on Cubs LHP Jon Lester tonight. That includes Tuesday vs. LHP Mike Montgomery. The loss dropped the Rays to an AL-worst 17-28 against southpaws.
Kean Wong hit a go-ahead grand slam and International League champion Durham beat the Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) 5-3 in Memphis to win the Triple-A championship. It was the Bulls' second title in three appearances in the game.