BOSTON — A 25-minute ceremony preceded Saturday’s game at Fenway Park that shifted smoothly from touchingly symbolic to gently moving before concluding with a touch of defiant pride.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
It was, in short, wholly American and a resounding step toward recovery for a city wounded this week by bombings Monday near the finish line of its marathon and the massive manhunt Friday for the final suspect.
“Today was more than just playing baseball,” Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “It was cool to be a part of it. It was something special out there that was going on.
“It makes you take a step back and realize why you’re out there. It was awesome to see that city come alive today.”
The Red Sox opened their tribute with a video montage from the past week to the accompaniment of Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah.” It began with upbeat images from the Boston Marathon before shifting to the carnage, the heroic response and the concluding manhunt.
The crowd of 35,152, standing throughout the ceremony, cheered at the numerous highlights of individual courage — and continued cheering when the Royals and Red Sox lined the baselines.
Some of the loudest cheers went to Matt Patterson, the off-duty firefighter who rushed into the blast area Monday to carry an injured boy to an ambulance.
Marathon volunteers lined the base of the Green Monster in left field just prior to the unfolding of an enormous United States flag that draped from the top of the 37-foot wall.
The stadium organist started a gentle version of the national anthem but stopped midway as the crowd gathered its collective voice in unison.
“It was special,” Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. “It was cool. I almost started crying at some of the points. It was a special moment. We were happy to be a part of it.”
After the teams made their way back to their dugouts, and the ceremonial first-pitch ceremonies concluded, designated hitter David Ortiz, the longest tenured Red Sox, took the microphone.
After thanking everyone, Ortiz channeled the prickly Puritan spirit that still characterizes this city, which once fomented the revolution that started a country and changed the world.
“This is our (expletive) city!” Ortiz reminded the crowd. “And nobody is going to dictate our freedom, Stay strong!”
The expletive was, yes, the common-use vulgar term for the carnal act. But if Ortiz knew his words were being beamed throughout the country via television, he didn’t seem to care.
Hopefully, the Federal Communications Commission won’t care either. Boston loved it. This week, this once, that should be enough.
A long Friday
The Royals spent Friday like most everyone else in the Boston area — huddled indoors and tracking news reports of the massive police manhunt for the surviving suspect in Monday’s bombings.
“A bunch of us sat around playing cards and watching TV for about eight hours,” right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. “Then we gave up on (following the manhunt), and switched to ESPN. And then everything happened.”
The authorities captured that suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in the neighboring community of Watertown as dusk settled over the city. A short time later, the Red Sox confirmed Saturday’s game would be played as scheduled.
“I’m ready to go,” Royals closer Greg Holland said in summing up the club’s mood. The Royals had been idle since their 1-0 victory over the Braves on Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta.
The Royals arrived Wednesday night at the Westin Copley Place hotel, which is located about two blocks from the scene of Monday’s bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Authorities identified Tsarnaev, 19, and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan as the prime suspects in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 180.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed from wounds suffered early Friday morning following a car chase and shootout. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped on foot, which prompted Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to issue a “shelter in place” order while the manhunt proceeded.
Patrick’s order effectively put Boston and its surrounding communities on a lockdown. Bus and rail service halted. Cabs continued to operate after a brief shutdown, but they were used primarily to take people home.
“Just sitting around the hotel,” center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. “That’s what my day was.”
Few if any of the club’s traveling party ventured into the streets.
“I pretty much obey the laws of the land,” manager Ned Yost said. “When they say, ‘stay in your hotel,’ I stayed in my hotel.”
Left-hander Will Smith will be recalled from Class AAA Omaha and join the Royals prior to Sunday’s doubleheader against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Smith is being recalled under the rule change, which began last year, that permits clubs to add a 26th player for day-night doubleheaders.
Clubs must trim rosters back to 25 players before the game following the doubleheader.
Smith, 23, is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts for Omaha. He was 6-9 with a 5.32 ERA last season in 16 starts for the Royals.
Lineup set (for now)
Yost rolled out a new-look lineup that he expects to use for the foreseeable future. It shifted Eric Hosmer into the cleanup role, followed by Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas.
“What I like to do,” Yost said, “is get a lineup and firm it for a while. I’ll probably keep this lineup for a while. We’ve (battled) weather, off-days and all of these outside conditions that are affecting our ability to get on a roll.”
Salvy Perez dropped to eighth between Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz. The top three of Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler remained unchanged.
“Until we can start playing some games consistently, and get into an offensive routine,” Yost said, “it’s hard to get any continuity going. We’ve got some guys who haven’t got really untracked yet.
“When they do, it’s going to be a fun little venture.”
Double-header on Sunday
The Royals and Red Sox will play a day/night doubleheader today to make up the game postponed Friday night because of the city-wide manhunt in Boston.
The first game will start, as previously scheduled, at 12:35 p.m. Central time. The second game is tentatively slotted for 6 p.m. Central time. Both games will be televised by Fox Sports Kansas City.
The Royals are planning to start Ervin Santana in the opener and Jeremy Guthrie in the second game.
The Royals sported a “B Strong” patch on their uniforms to honor the Boston community in light of the bombings and manhunt that disrupted the city over the previous five days.
The patches will remain in place throughout the series.
It was 30 years ago Saturday — April 20, 1983 — that George Brett hit three homers and drove in a career-high seven runs in an 8-7 victory at Detroit.
Brett capped his big day with a two-run shot in the ninth inning against Howard Bailey that provided the winning margin. His first two homers were against Jack Morris.
• Salvy Perez notched his first pickoff of the year when he nailed Daniel Nava at second base in the seventh inning. It extended Perez’s club-record career total to nine.
• Lorenzo Cain went four for four with a single, two doubles and a homer. It was the third four-hit game of his career, but his first since the Dec. 19, 2010 trade brought him to the Royals from Milwaukee.
• George Kottaras finally got into a game when he served as a pinch hitter for Chris Getz in the ninth inning. Kottaras was the last player in the majors who opened the season on a club’s 25-man roster to appear in a game.
• Jeff Francoeur’s RBI single in the fifth inning, which opened the scoring, ended a 22-inning scoreless streak by Boston starter Clay Buchholz.
• Boston starting pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs in all 16 of the club’s games.
• The Royals are 10-23 at Fenway since the start of the 2005 season and 6-15 since the start of the 2008 season.