Fenway Park should be buzzing on Friday, as the Boston Red Sox return home for the first time following one of the most tragic events in the city's history.
After a harrowing week, especially in the last 24 hours, Boston will begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals.
"I think we feel a sense that we can contribute to a communal spirit and hopefully create a little bit of a diversion for those affected directly," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We're certainly not going to replace what happened but I think maybe we have a way of helping get back to some sense of normalcy."
Shortly after the Red Sox' Patriots' Day win over the Tampa Bay Rays, explosions rocked the finish line at the Boston Marathon, killing three people, while injuring nearly 200 more.
Not long after officials released pictures and videos of the suspects on Thursday, one of them was killed, while the other remained on the loose, setting off a wild manhunt, as the city of Boston and its outlying suburbs essentially sits in lockdown.
The Red Sox, though, return home as the hottest team in baseball following a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians. Boston has won six in a row, eight of its last 10 and sits atop the American League East standings.
Now they may be getting even more help, as designated hitter David Ortiz is expected to return following a right Achilles injury that has kept him out since August.
"To have his presence in the middle of the order certainly speaks for itself for the number of years and the success he's had," Farrell said. "I think he gives us the potential to lengthen our lineup even more and we're certainly looking forward to seeing him in the clubhouse tomorrow."
Righty Clay Buchholz takes the hill trying for his fourth win. Buchholz has been terrific through his first three starts, winning all three and pitching to a 0.41 ERA. Buchholz was brilliant against the Rays on Sunday, as he tossed eight scoreless innings of two-hit baseball.
Buchholz has faced Kansas City four times and is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA.
Kansas City, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty James Shields, who is 1-2 with a 3.43 ERA. Shields went the distance in a loss to Toronto on Saturday, as he allowed three runs and two hits. He also struck out six and walked three.
Shields is 8-13 against the Red Sox with a 4.56 ERA in 23 starts.
Kansas City ended Atlanta's 10-game winning streak on Wednesday, as Wade Davis (2-0) scattered five hits over seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 win. Jeff Francoeur drove in the lone run in the fourth inning for the Royals, who have won six of nine.
"We're not swinging the bats as great as we want right now, but, at the same time, when you got pitching like we do this year, sometimes you just need to get one run to win a game and today we were able to do that," Francoeur said.
Boston was 4-3 against Kansas City last season.