It was an emotional day all around at Fenway Park, and Daniel Nava’s three-run home run in the eighth really put a bow on it.
End 8th, Red Sox 4-2: This Red Sox team is fun to watch.
After the Fenway Faithful really came alive before the eighth inning, Daniel Nava treated them to a three-run home run to give the Sox their first lead of the game.
Jonny Gomes — pinch-hitting for Shane Victorino — nearly tied the game to lead off the inning. His fly ball to left field bounced off the wall, resulting in a double.
Dustin Pedroia walked, which got the crowd all fired up for David Ortiz. Unfortunately for Boston, Ortiz grounded into a double play.
It was no sweat, though.
Mike Napoli worked a walk to set the stage for Nava’s blast into the bullpen.
Andrew Bailey will now try to close out a win for the Sox.
4:06 p.m.: Surprise treat. Neil Diamond himself came out to lead the Fenway Faithful in a raucous rendition of “Sweet Caroline.”
Making the scene even better was the ensuing “USA” chant. God bless this country.
Mid 8th, Royals 2-1: The Royals put a couple of runners on in the eighth, but Clay Buchholz likely capped off his day by getting out of a jam.
Alcides Escobar singled and Billy Butler walked with one out, but Buchholz escaped the brief threat by getting Eric Hosmer to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
End 7th, Royals 2-1: The inning started off promising for the Red Sox, but it certainly didn’t end the way they had hoped.
Daniel Nava was hit in the shoe top with a pitch, and Will Middlebrooks finally showed some offensive life by singling into right field against Aaron Crow.
Stephen Drew then dug in with runners at first and second, but Nava was soon picked off second base on a throw down by catcher Salvador Perez. Perez, of course, was the guy who gave Kansas City the lead, so it makes sense that he’d help save it, right?
Drew ended up grounding down to third base, where Mike Moustakas couldn’t handle the play. That put runners at first and second once again.
Manager John Farrell called on Jarrod Saltalamacchia to pinch-hit for David Ross against the new pitcher, Tim Collins. Salty popped out in foul territory along the third base line, and Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to right field to end the threat.
Mid 7th, Royals 2-1: Just minutes after the Royals’ lead evaporated, K.C. grabbed it right back.
Lorenzo Cain, who has been a little bit of a thorn in Clay Buchholz’s side in this game, led off with a double.
After Mike Moustakas flew out, Jeff Francoeur grounded back to the mound for the second out.
Buchholz couldn’t finish off his escape, though. Salvador Perez reached out and poked a triple down the right-field line, which scored Cain with Kansas City’s second run.
End 6th, 1-1: David Ortiz is not only playing in his first game this season, but he’s also Boston’s most productive hitter in this contest.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth, and Shane Victorino moved him up by dropping down a sacrifice bunt.
Then, with Ellsbury on second and one out, Dustin Pedroia grounded to third. Mike Moustakas made the play, but Ellsbury took third on his throw to first.
Ortiz made Ellsbury’s hard work count. The slugger reached out and drove a single into center field to tie the game.
Ortiz is now 2-for-3 thus far, meaning he has half of Boston’s hits.
Mid 6th, Royals 1-0: Kansas City’s lead is still just one run, and the Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia to thank.
Alex Gordon hit a double into the left-field corner to lead off the inning, and he moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Alcides Escobar. The decision to bunt certainly shows that the Royals have faith in how James Shields is pitching.
While the Royals were willing to give up an out, though, Clay Buchholz almost told them to keep it. After fielding Escobar’s bunt, his throw to first base was in the dirt, but Pedroia made an excellent backhanded scoop to keep Gordon at third.
Billy Butler then lined out sharply to short. Eric Hosmer grounded up the middle with two outs, and Pedroia made another nifty play, fielding it on the backhand and throwing on the run to end the inning.
End 5th, Royals 1-0: James Shields kept the Red Sox down again in the fifth, although Boston did make life a little bit more difficult for the right-hander.
Daniel Nava walked to lead off the inning, but Will Middlebrooks’ struggles continued, as the third baseman grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
Stephen Drew then tried to establish a rally by singling into right field, but his effort went for naught, as David Ross struck out looking to end the inning.
Ross saw nine pitches in the at-bat, but Shields eventually froze him with a fastball.
Shields is up to 91 pitches in this one. His velocity is still good, though, and he seems very much in control at this point.
Mid 5th, Royals 1-0: Clay Buchholz had a 22-inning scoreless streak snapped in the fifth.
Lorenzo Cain led off with a double down the left-field line. He would advance to third on a high fly ball off the bat of Mike Moustakas.
With Cain on third, Jeff Francoeur singled through the left side to give Kansas City the lead.
Francoeur stole second with Salvador Perez batting, but Clay Buchholz ensured the Royals wouldn’t add to their run total. Buchholz dropped in a curveball to get Perez looking, and he then went to the fastball to get Chris Getz looking.
End 4th, 0-0: After 4 2/3 no-hit innings, James Shields finally surrendered a hit. It came off the bat of David Ortiz.
Shields was still very sharp in the inning, though.
Shields struck out Shane Victorino swinging on a fastball down in the zone to start the inning. The right-hander capped off the frame by getting Mike Napoli with the slider, which continues to be nasty in this game.
Ortiz’s two-out single was well-struck. The slugger turned on a fastball and sent it past the shift and into right field.
Mid 4th, 0-0: More good stuff from Clay Buchholz in what was a busy fourth inning for shortstop Stephen Drew.
Drew recorded two assists and a putout, and he probably has a bruise to go with his labor.
Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler both grounded out to short, and Eric Hosmer popped out. Butler’s ground ball got on Drew in a hurry, but the shortstop threw his body in front of it in order to knock it down.
That’s how you field a ground ball, kids.
End 3rd, 0-0: James Shields has looked very sharp thus far.
Shields struck out both Stephen Drew and David Ross to begin the third, and he then retired Jacoby Ellsbury on a comebacker to the mound.
Shields’ slider has been particularly effective. He froze both Drew and Ross with the pitch, and three of his four K’s have come on the slider.
When Shields’ out pitch is working, he can be unhittable. That’s exactly what he’s been thus far.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Clay Buchholz is cruising through three innings.
Buchholz enjoyed a 1-2-3 third. He got Salvador Perez and Chris Getz to ground out before striking out Alex Gordon to end the inning.
Buchholz has 4 K’s thus far. He got Gordon swinging on a changeup low and out of the zone.
It’s also worth noting that a fan made a great snag down the third-base line in the inning. It was a hot shot, and the fan (who was wearing a glove) leaped to make the play.
End 2nd, 0-0: The Red Sox are showing some great patience at the plate early on, although it hasn’t led to any damage on the scoreboard.
An inning after Dustin Pedroia worked an eight-pitch walk, Mike Napoli put up a lengthy at-bat before drawing a free pass. Napoli — like Pedroia — saw eight pitches and eventually laid off a slider to earn the walk.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the next two hitters couldn’t do anything with it. Daniel Nava grounded down to first baseman Eric Hosmer, who stepped on the bag and fired to second, where Alcides Escobar laid a tag on Napoli to execute the double play.
Will Middlebrooks, who continues to struggle at the plate, struck out to end the inning. He’s now 2 for his last 31. Yikes.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: The Royals put a runner in scoring position, but Clay Buchholz ended the inning with a big punch-out.
Buchholz has the changeup working in this one. The right-hander got Eric Hosmer to foul tip an offspeed offering into David Ross’ mitt for out No. 1.
Lorenzo Cain then singled into right field, and he stole second base with Jeff Francoeur batting two hitters later. Cain started and then stopped after taking off while Buchholz still had the ball. He would ultimately reach second safely, though, as Ross was unable to handle Buchholz’s pitch cleanly.
With Cain on second, Francoeur struck out. He went down looking at a fastball.
End 1st, 0-0: David Ortiz got a very loud ovation as he came up to the plate for the first time. A lot of that is certainly because Red Sox fans are glad to have him back, but I’m sure his pregame comments added to the atmosphere.
Ortiz eventually flew out to left, but it’s definitely good to see Big Papi back on the Fenway field.
Prior to Ortiz’s inning-ending fly out, Dustin Pedroia worked a two-out walk. Pedey saw eight pitches while drawing the free pass.
Jacoby Ellsbury struck out and Shane Victorino popped out in the inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: It’s officially time to turn our attention to baseball.
Clay Buchholz gave up a one-out hit in the first inning, but he was otherwise in typical Buchholz form; keeping the Royals’ offense in check.
Buchholz struck out Alex Gordon swinging to begin the game. Gordon worked the count full, but Buchholz eventually pulled the string and got him to wave at a changeup.
Alcides Escobar singled, but Buchholz then got Billy Butler to ground into a double play. Dustin Pedroia made the play and took it to the bag himself before firing to first to complete the DP.
1:38 p.m.: The game is under way at Fenway, although the crowd is still caught up in the pregame festivities — understandably so.
1:30 p.m.: Wow.
That’s really the only way I can describe the pregame ceremony at Fenway Park.
The national anthem was sung in unison by the Fenway Faithful. Then, Deval Patrick, Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis and a number of law enforcement officials eventually walked to the middle of the diamond to be where they should be: front and center.
The game’s first pitch was thrown out by Patrick and local heroes Matt Patterson, Steven Byrne and Dick and Rick Hoyt.
After all was said and done, David Ortiz addressed the Fenway crowd. In his message, he told the fans, “This is our [expletive] city.”
1:17 p.m.: After a moment of silence for the victims of this week’s tragic events, a bunch of Boston Marathon volunteers — wearing their yellow marathon jackets — have come onto the field.
Law enforcement officials are also on the field, while both teams line the base lines.
1:10 p.m.: A very moving tribute was just played on the Fenway big screen.
1:05 p.m.: Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick has been spotted in the Red Sox’ dugout.
1 p.m.: I’m seeing a lot of Old Glories in the Fenway crowd. I like it, Boston. I like it.
I’m also digging the Red Sox’ jerseys. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.
12:54 p.m.: There’s definitely a special feel at Fenway. A lot of fans have brought their own signs supporting Boston, but the Red Sox have also distributed “B Strong” signs to the fans.
Some military personnel just walked up the first-base line with an American flag, and it drew a nice response from the crowd.
12:50 p.m.: David Ortiz just came on to the field to stretch. That got a big ovation from the fans above the Red Sox’ dugout.
12:45 p.m.: There’s one little programming note I should pass along to all of you with access to a TV. The Red Sox will be televised on NESN, while the Bruins will be televised on NESNplus.
For those interested in catching up on the B’s at some point, check out the link below to find your NESNplus channel. Also, you can follow my good friend Mike Cole’s Bruins live blog.
11:51 a.m.: The Red Sox will honor those affected by the recent tragedy by wearing special “Boston” jerseys on Saturday.
Typically, the Red Sox’ home white jerseys have “Red Sox” written across the front of them. On Saturday, the Sox will wear white jerseys with “Boston” written in red lettering across the front.
In a cool gesture, Red Sox players will autograph their game-worn jerseys, and the jerseys will then be auctioned off, with proceeds going to The One Fund Boston.
The Royals will also honor Boston this weekend. Every Royals player and staff member will be wearing a “B Strong” patch throughout the series, according to the team’s game notes.
11:13 a.m.: The Red Sox will play a doubleheader on Sunday.
The club announced that Friday night’s game against the Royals has been rescheduled for Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
The start time of Sunday’s regularly scheduled game remains 1:35 p.m. ET.
Fans with tickets to Friday’s game can use them for Sunday’s 7 p.m. game. Fans are also asked to arrive at the ballpark a little earlier than usual.
11 a.m.: The Red Sox hardly need any reinforcements, but adding an eight-time All-Star certainly doesn’t hurt.
David Ortiz will bat cleanup in his return on Saturday, which will push Mike Napoli — the team’s RBI leader (17) — to fifth. John Farrell has opted to go with Daniel Nava sixth while moving Will Middlebrooks down to seventh. That gives the Sox some great lefty-righty balance.
Saturday’s complete lineup is below.
Red Sox (11-4)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
David Ross, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP
8 a.m. ET: Saturday’s game at Fenway Park will be about more than just baseball.
After a difficult week in Boston, which included the postponement of Friday night’s game, the Red Sox will open up a 10-game homestand against the Royals on Saturday. Clay Buchholz will be matched up against James Shields in the series opener. It should prove to be quite the pitchers’ duel, but regardless of the opponent, Buchholz understands that the contest’s meaning extends beyond the field of play.
“It’s going to be a special game — definitely one to remember,” Buchholz said earlier in the week. “I’m sort of at a loss for words for it. I’m going to try to keep my emotions under wraps as much as possible. Given the circumstances, it’s going to be a day that’s in pursuit of recovery for everyone who had to face losses.”
Although it’s difficult to focus on the game’s implications from a baseball standpoint, the Red Sox will add a welcome addition to the lineup on Saturday. David Ortiz is expected to make his return, which bode well for a club that’s already in cruise control.
The Red Sox enter Saturday’s game having won six straight. Can they make it seven? Tune in on NESN, and follow along with NESN.com’s live blog to find out.
Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.