TORONTO -- Rays manager Joe Maddon paused and took a second to think.
After a brief second of reflection, he responded, "In a baseball sense, that would almost be unbelievable."
Maddon was responding to the idea that Monday's series opener against the Yankees would likely not be sold out.
With ample tickets available for Monday's showdown between American League Cy Young Award candidates David Price and CC Sabathia -- not to mention first place in the AL East at stake -- Maddon was in disbelief.
"If you were truly a baseball person, and I believe there are enough of those around the Tampa Bay area, that if you had this opportunity to go and see it in person, to not -- and again, we're pretty reasonable in regard to our pricing, parking and everything else -- that would be very disappointing actually."
Well aware of the reasons preventing individuals from attending a game, Maddon said simply, "It's about supporting your group, [and] how much that matters."
Rays go mostly right-handed vs. Marcum
TORONTO -- Rays manager Joe Maddon refused to take any chances in Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays. When it comes to Toronto starter Shaun Marcum, he doesn't run away from the numbers.
Despite throwing right-handed, Marcum is renowned as a reverse splits pitcher. Entering Sunday's game, lefties have hit just .187 vs. Marcum this year, with an on-base percentage of only .234.
With those stats in mind, Maddon infused his lineup with right-handed hitters.
"Marcum's OPS vs. left-handers is actually better than David Price's," Maddon said. "Better than Cliff Lee, better than David Price, better than almost any lefty we're going to see. Lefties are hitting under .200, on-base is .234, the OPS is .518 -- it's ridiculous. It wasn't very hard for me to maneuver this."
Lefties Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford -- whom Maddon wanted to give a day off the turf regardless -- were out of Sunday's batting order. In place were Desmond Jennings and and Brad Hawpe.
Hawpe was the only left-hander slated to start, but in light of the impeding stretch run, Maddon was intrigued to see whether the 31-year-old could hold his own at first base.
"I've been told by guys from Colorado how good of a first baseman this guy is, from guys I really respect," Maddon said. "[Third-base coach Tom Foley] has been working with him over there, and he said, 'Hey, this guy is good, really good at first base.' Everybody views him as an outfielder, but I've heard nothing but good things about him as a defensive first baseman."
Second baseman Sean Rodriguez, batting third on Sunday, entered the afternoon with three doubles, a triple and a home run against Marcum, in just eight at-bats.
First hit was 'special moment' for Jennings
TORONTO -- The Rays' 13-1 thumping of the Blue Jays on Saturday showcased many incredible performances.
A grand slam from Brad Hawpe, a one-run outing from starter Wade Davis, and a two RBI effort from Ben Zobrist, to name a few. But somewhat lost in the madness was rookie Desmond Jennings' first Major League hit.
The highly touted prospect had started his big league career going a disappointing 0-for-5. Then came the moment. With the game in the bag, manager Joe Maddon pinch-hit Jennings for outfielder B.J. Upton in the eighth.
Jennings didn't wait long, smacking a first pitch offering from Rommie Lewis to right field for a double. He later came around to score on a Jason Bartlett triple for his first run scored.
"It feels good," Jennings said. "It took forever. Definitely a special moment. I got the ball. It was sitting in my locker when I came in."
A proud Maddon reflected on the youngster's hit and foreshadowed what Rays fans should expect to see in the not-so-distant future.
"It was great," Maddon said. "And you saw his speed. You saw the instincts on the bases. You saw his closing ability on a fly ball in the outfield. He'd make a fine cornerback -- really an exceptional athlete. It was good to see."
Quote to note
With many cornerstone players up for free agency this offseason, manager Joe Maddon provided his thoughts on whether he thought this was the Rays last crack at a serious playoff run -- at least in the foreseeable future: "I'd like to believe that even next year, regardless of what happens this year -- who may move on, who may stay -- that the system we have in place, and the other guys coming along, and the creativity in our front office, I really believe that regardless of what happens, we're going to be in good shape come next year."
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.