First, the city of St. Petersburg, Florida had a dome with no baseball team. Some cynics would say they still do, but look out for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays - they are setting team records for victories right and left, and excitement is building, along with ticket sales. With the team reaching the 70-win mark for the first time in its history in 2004, 2005 could be the year the team reaches the .500 plateau.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays make Tropicana Field, in St. Petersburg their home. The Devil Rays became a member of the American League East and played their first game on March 31, 1998, an 11-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Wilson Alvarez was the Opening Day pitcher for the Devil Rays. The first game at Tropicana Field was a sellout, with 45,369 tickets sold. Though sporting a talented line-up, the Devil Rays Baseball Club has yet to reach the postseason since its inception. In their young history, the Devil Rays have developed a rivalry with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees and the Red Sox are two of the most storied franchises in Major League Baseball, and many Yankee and Red Sox fans reside in the Devil Rays' hometown.
In the Devil Rays' short tenure in Major League Baseball, there have been a few events that have made history in the record books. The Devil Rays, on April 1, 1998, notched their first win against the Detroit Tigers. The Devil Rays are the only expansion baseball team to be 4 games over .500 at any point in their inaugural season. Rolando Arrojo became the second rookie from an expansion team to be named to an All-Star and the first Cuban pitcher since Luis Tiant in 1976. Wade Boggs, as a member of the Devil Rays, was the first player to reach 3,000 hits with his home run on August 7, 1999. On April 7, 2000 the Devil Rays hosted the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field, and this game marked the first time a professional baseball game was played on field turf, artificial turf that has the characteristics of natural grass. On June 2, 2000, Fred McGriff became the 31st player to reach 400 home runs. The Devil Rays also have had on their roster the lowest selected player ever to reach the big leagues, Travis Phelps, who was selected in the 89th round. On May 21, 2002 Joe Kennedy became the first Devil Ray pitcher to throw a complete game, with the team setting a Major League record of 186 straight games without a complete game pitched.
Although the Devil Rays have finished 5th, last, in their first six seasons, never winning more than 69 games, the hiring of Manager Lou Piniella, a two-time American League Manager of the Year, makes the future of the Devil Rays seem bright.
Note: Though commonly spelled Devilrays, the correct spelling of the teams name is Devil Rays. While many fans write the name informally as 'Devilrays,' you will not find the name written Devilrays in the newspaper.
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