ST. PETERSBURG -- Stuart Sternberg was at Tropicana Field for Wednesday night's Red Sox-Rays contest, and the principal owner of the Rays took time to talk about a variety of subjects.

Tuesday night's attendance of 17,692 for the Red Sox game was the lowest attendance the team has had for a Red Sox game since 2007 -- and the Rays are in the Wild Card hunt. Sternberg said the low mark was "unexpected."

"I'm not a person to give explanations," Sternberg said. "I'm very proud of the job we've done this year and last year. I give an A-plus to the entire organization. We're throwing everything we can at it. I love the game of baseball and I can only believe that others love the game as well, enough to take the time to come out and see us, whether we're playing the Red Sox, the Angels, the Royals or whoever."

Sternberg talked about this season's on-field results and noted that a missed double-play here or myriad little miscues or breaks there can spell the difference between first place and third place, where the Rays resided entering Wednesday night's game.

"The goal is to get to September and play meaningful baseball games," Sternberg said.

The Rays will be playing those games without lefty Scott Kazmir, who was traded to the Angels last week. Sternberg was supportive of the deal.

"We got players back who I think are very significant, and I feel very comfortable [with the deal]," Sternberg said. "Fans should be always looking for us to push forward, bore ahead. ... Keep going forward. We've got to balance everything that goes on. And I look at this as the whole organization in the franchise. And we do what we feel is in the best interest of the franchise.

"We're not always going to be right 100 percent of the time, but our track record is pretty good and I feel very good about the deal and the rationale that went into it."

Sternberg didn't make excuses about being a small-market team having to compete in the American League East, a division with the Yankees and Red Sox.

"I think we have to look at things differently than the Yankees and Red Sox do, but we have to look at things the way a lot of teams do," Sternberg said. "They're hard choices. They're hard decisions to make sometime. But you have to be an adult about it and make it."