The Kansas City Royals return to action Saturday afternoon after having two days off. Thursday was a planned off-day, but Friday's game, as you undoubtedly know, was postponed due to manhunt in Boston for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombing.
I've heard local media talk about how many of the Royals game this season have "felt" more important this season despite the fact that they are really early in the season. I mean, if you want to make a huge deal about Wade Davis shutting out the Atlanta Braves in April, then be my guest, but it doesn't change the fact that it was only one game.
Saturday's game, however, will likely be more important to many people in the New England area and some people nationally than your typical baseball game. It should help mark a return to normalcy for those attending and watching the game Fenway Park, a much needed break from the chaos of the week.
Judging by pictures and video of Boston that have surfaced Friday night, the crowd will either be quite raucous during Saturday's game, or too hungover to attend. Either way, I'm sure the "Star-Spangled Banner" will be emotional for many, and however the Red Sox plan to honor all those who assisted in helping the victims of the bombing and capturing the suspect will be touching.
Despite the extraneous circumstances that surround the game, at 1:10 p.m. ET, Clay Buchholz will toss the first pitch and a baseball game will start. Buccholz and James Shields were both scheduled to start on Friday, but will face each other this afternoon instead.
Buchholz has pitched quite well for the Red Sox this season, as he has only allowed one run across 22 innings in three starts. His K%, which is 17.7% for his career, currently sits at 27.4%. His swinging strike percentage, however, has not increased, which suggests that his early increase in strikeout percentage can be expected to regress towards his career average.
Shields has looked sharp on the mound as well this season, and can currently thank his 3.5 percent walk rate for the improvement. I'm not sure how long that low of a walk rate will last for the starting pitcher, as little appears to have changed about his pitching profile. But there is little to complain about how Shields has pitched so far, and he should give Kansas City a solid start.
There will be likely more casual observers watching this game and hoping that the Red Sox will win. I understand the reasons why a Boston win would be nice for the city, but I'm a greedy fan; I want the Royals to win all of the games. When the first pitch is thrown, the focus can shift back to the game itself and on the matchup between above .500 baseball teams.