With the Rays picking up James Shields’ and Fernando Rodney’s club option for 2013 and Jeremy Hellickson winning the A.L. Gold Glove Award this week, it reminds us all how much the Rays value their pitching staff. But then again, having their starting rotation loaded with Shields, Hellickson, David Price, Jeff Niemann, and Matt Moore allows the Rays to claim that they have one of the best rotations in baseball.
The Rays’ bullpen is just as dazzling as their starting rotation, with closer Fernando Rodney winning the 2012 AL Comeback Player of the Year with a 0.60 ERA. Wade Davis transitioned well from his position as a starter into a reliever after Matt Moore was added as the Rays’ fifth starting pitcher. Davis had 87 strikeouts in 70.1 innings with a 2.43 ERA.
Rays fans are proud of their dynamic pitching staff, and one feature at Tropicana Field allows fans to revel in the pitchers’ strong performances: the Kane’s 10-strikeout promotion.
Sponsored by Kane’s Furniture, a sign in the outfield records how many batters Rays’ pitchers strikeout. The sign features ten “K’s,” and one “K” lights up after each batter of the opposing team strikes out. If the pitching staff strikes out ten batters, fans in attendance can take their game day ticket to Kane’s Furniture and redeem it for a coupon for a free 10-inch Papa John’s pizza. Fans must take their single-game ticket to Kane’s Furniture within seven days of the game’s date to receive their Papa John’s coupon.
Although the thought of free food is enough to get people excited, the Kane’s 10-strikeout promotion rallies fans behind the Rays’ pitchers every night at Tropicana Field.
While attending the Rays’ game against the Cleveland Indians on July 16, 2012, I was disappointed that the Rays lost 2-3 to the Indians. However, the ninth inning was filled with excitement as Fernando Rodney took the mound and faced the task of striking out the tenth Indians batter of the night. While looking at the nine “K’s” lit up on the sign in centerfield, the crowd rose to their feet and rang their cowbells as loud as they could. When Rodney struck out Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera, Tropicana Field’s noise level swelled and the fans were singing Rodney’s praises.
Although fans do not need a free pizza to support the Rays pitchers, the Kane’s 10-strikeout promotion is another way that the Rays organization engages fans. And with a pitching staff that has received numerous awards and is feared by opposing teams, who wouldn’t want to give away free pizza to celebrate?