The Boston Red Sox have plenty of reasons to look forward to returning home from a brief but successful trip.
None more than the chance to help their hometown heal from one of the most tragic events in the city's history.
With slugger David Ortiz expected to make his season debut and Clay Buchholz hoping to remain undefeated, the Red Sox try for a seventh consecutive victory Friday night against the Kansas City Royals in their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings.
Shortly after the Red Sox (11-4) won 3-2 over Tampa Bay in Monday's annual Patriots Day game, two bombs exploded near the downtown finish line of the Boston Marathon. The alleged act of terrorism killed three people, injured more than 170 and jarred the collective hearts of a city and nation
On Friday, the Red Sox and Royals (8-6) hope to provide another element in the healing process for the city of Boston."It's going to be great," said Jon Lester , who pitched seven strong innings in Boston's 6-3 win at Cleveland on Thursday. "Maybe for a couple of hours it can get back to being Boston and watching a baseball game and not thinking about all the other things. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that."
Though the Royals have dropped seven of 10 at Fenway Park, they also are looking forward to Friday's contest.
"It's going to be a lot of fun to go into that city and play in that town when it means more than just playing baseball," Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas told MLB's official website. "It's going to be nice to go into a town and be able to help people out."
During their three-game sweep of Cleveland, the Red Sox put a symbolic jersey in their dugout that had "BOSTON 617 STRONG" on the back. They'll likely do the same with a home jersey at Fenway and have the Red Sox logo "B" with the word "Strong" under it on the Green Monster.
Red Sox fans can certainly find comfort in their team's start after missing the postseason the last three years. Boston leads the AL East and can win seven straight for the first time since 2011.
That success came without Ortiz, who started on the disabled list with an Achilles injury that limited him to 90 games in 2012. The slugger went 4 for 20 during a rehab assignment that ended Thursday when he homered for Triple-A Pawtucket.
"He feels good about where he's at, and all things are pointing to his return (Friday)," manager John Farrell said.
Ortiz has batted .371 with five homers and 23 RBIs in his last 16 games versus Kansas City.
Buchholz (3-0, 0.41 ERA), meanwhile, has thrown 18 scoreless innings since allowing his only run - a homer at Yankee Stadium on April 3. He's yielded 11 hits and struck out 23 in 22 innings overall.
The right-hander, who took a no-hitter in the eighth Sunday versus Tampa Bay, ultimately allowing two hits and fanning 11 in the 5-0 win, will try not to get caught up in the emotion of a special night.
"I'm going to try to keep my emotions under wraps as much as possible," he told the Red Sox's official website. "Given the circumstances, it's going to be a day that's in pursuit of recovery for everyone who had to face losses."
Buchholz is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA against the Royals, but has not faced them since 2010.
Kansas City counters with James Shields (1-2, 3.43), who went 2-9 with a 5.86 ERA at Fenway for Tampa Bay. However, he allowed four hits in 8 1-3 innings of 1-0 win at Boston last season.
The right-hander gave up three runs, two on a homer, and one other hit in nine innings of a 3-2 loss to Toronto on Saturday.
Cain is batting .424 in his last nine games, but is 2 for 15 with a homer and six strikeouts at Fenway.
|Kansas City Royals|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|Boston Red Sox|
|April 14, 2013||Joel Hanrahan||15-Day DL||Sore right hamstring|
|April 07, 2013||John Lackey||15-Day DL||Right biceps strain|
|April 06, 2013||John Lackey||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right biceps strain|
|March 27, 2013||Stephen Drew||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|March 27, 2013||Stephen Drew||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|March 22, 2013||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right Achilles soreness|
BOSTON (AP) -- The Red Sox and Bruins postponed their games Friday as authorities searched for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, virtually shutting the city down.
The teams announced about four hours before their night games were scheduled to start that they were scratched.
Police identified two suspects in Monday's explosions that killed three people and wounded more than 180. One man was killed during a shootout with police and the other was being sought in a massive police effort that dragged through the day.
Authorities in Boston suspended all mass transit, used by many fans to get to games, and told people in throughout Boston and some of its suburbs to stay inside for much of Friday as the hunt for Suspect No. 2 went on. Trains were finally allowed to run again after 6 p.m.
No makeup date was announced for the opener of the Red Sox three-game series against the Kansas City Royals scheduled at Fenway Park. Saturday's game, set to start at 1:35 p.m., was still on.
The NHL game at TD Garden between the Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins, two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, was tentatively rescheduled for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. A final decision on whether it would be played was to be made by four hours before faceoff, the Bruins said. Saturday night's originally scheduled game between the Buffalo Sabres and Penguins in Pittsburgh was rescheduled for Tuesday night.
"We totally understand the situation and (are) respectful of that," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "Hopefully, (we) have a chance to play tomorrow if that's the case, but, again, the safety of the people of Boston, the city of Boston is most important for everybody."
Capacity at Fenway Park, about one mile from the finish line, is 37,493 for night games. Capacity at TD Garden is 17,565. With fans advised to stay home and police devoted to the manhunt, the decision to postpone was easy.
Red Sox spokesman Kevin Gregg said the Royals have been in town since Wednesday night and spent their off day in the city on Thursday.
The Royals are staying at the Westin Copley Place hotel, about a block from the marathon finish line.
"We've been told not to go outside. We've been told the hotel has been locked down, although I've seen a handful of people moving around," Royals vice president Mike Swanson said earlier Friday. "The streets are just, wow. It's numbingly quiet for a noon hour in Boston."
The Bruins also announced that the sale of playoff tickets, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Friday, has been put off until 11 a.m. Monday.
The New England Patriots postponed for the second time a news conference with director of player personnel Nick Caserio about next week's NFL draft. The news conference originally had been scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed after the bombings. It has been rescheduled for Monday.
The suspension of Amtrak train service forced the New England Revolution to change plans and travel by bus Friday morning to their game against the New York Red Bulls scheduled Saturday night at Red Bull Stadium in Harrison, N.J.
Boston College canceled all home athletic events for Saturday, including the annual spring football game.
Also postponed was the National Women's Soccer League game on Saturday between the Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan. No makeup date was announced. The decision was based on "increased security measures that have impacted travel from the area," NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said.
The league also said it would conduct a moment of silence before the national anthem at two games this weekend.
Even before the manhunt, the bombings resulted in two major pro sports games in Boston being scratched - the Bruins against the Ottawa Senators last Monday night and the Indiana Pacers against the Celtics on Tuesday night. The Bruins game was rescheduled for April 28. The Celtics game was canceled outright, and the NBA's regular season ended on Wednesday.
The Celtics are scheduled to begin the first round of the playoffs Saturday in New York against the Knicks.
The Bruins resumed play on Wednesday night amid tightened security at home against the Sabres. Fans were checked with wands and cars were subject to random searches as they entered the TD Garden underground garage.
Before the game, there was a moment of silence, a slideshow of marathon scenes on the video scoreboard above center ice and a stirring rendition of the national anthem, which was started by long-time Bruins vocalist Rene Rancourt. He sang a few lines then gestured for the fans to join in - which they did.
After the game, players gathered at center ice and raised their sticks in a salute to the fans who had chanted "U.S.A." and "We are Boston."
AP sports writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City contributed to this report