Following an emotional return to Fenway Park on Saturday, the Red Sox will look to continue helping the city of Boston heal in the wake of this past week's tragic events when they host the Royals for a split doubleheader on Sunday.
Boston hopes to extend its seven-game winning streak when it calls on Ryan Dempster to square off against Royals right-hander Ervin Santana in the first game. Right-hander Allen Webster -- the Red Sox's No. 4 overall prospect according to MLB.com -- will make his Major League debut in the nightcap, while Kansas City turns to veteran Jeremy Guthrie.
"I think it says it all, the fact that this city has come together at a time where we're at our weakest," Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said before Saturday's emotional pregame ceremony and eventual 4-3 victory. "It just proves how relentless this city is and how relentless this nation is."
Lately, the Red Sox have also proved how relentless they are on the field.
Despite playing with heavy hearts the day after the bombings, Boston took the field in Cleveland and earned a 7-2 victory en route to sweeping a three-game set from the Tribe. Then, after their expected return to Fenway was delayed by a day Friday night, the Sox picked up right where they left off Saturday, rallying to a victory when Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer in the eighth.
In the midst of the horrifying events off the field over the past week, the Red Sox have put together their longest winning streak since June 3-12, 2011, when they rattled off nine consecutive victories.
As for the Royals, they will be looking to get back on track after losing Saturday for the fourth time in the last six games following a four-game winning streak of their own. Regardless of the results in Sunday's doubleheader, Kansas City -- like much of the baseball world this week - is honored to help the Boston community start to heal.
"It gives people something to keep their minds off of what's going on, gives them something to cheer about, something that gives them pride," Royals infielder Elliot Johnson said. "Obviously, many people in Boston are proud Red Sox fans and have been for generations."
On Sunday, those fans will have twice the opportunity to display that pride for their team, and more importantly, their city.
Royals: Santana looks to keep rolling
In his last two outings, Santana has displayed the dominance the Royals had hoped for when they acquired him in an offseason trade with the Angels.
The righty has delivered two straight eight-inning performances, allowing just one earned run in each. Santana limited the Twins to one run on eight hits while striking out seven on April 8 for his first victory as a Royal and followed it up by holding the Blue Jays to two runs (one earned) off seven hits while taking a no-decision last Sunday.
For the season, Santana is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts.
Red Sox: Ortiz returns, focus shifts to playing every day
With David Ortiz making his return in Saturday's emotional series-opening victory, manager John Farrell is now focused on how to best utilize his slugger going forward.
Playing in his first game since Aug. 24, 2012 -- and just his second since July 20 last season due to discomfort in his right Achilles -- Ortiz on Saturday went 2-for-4 with an RBI. For now, Farrell plans to wait and see how Ortiz responds to the rigors of playing on a daily basis, but one thing is for sure -- he likes his lineup card a lot better when Ortiz's name is penciled in.
"To see him walk in the clubhouse, the energy and the excitement that always seems to surround him, not only the ability of him as a player and a hitter, but to have him in the middle of the lineup, it lengthens out our lineup," Farrell said. "And we'll work through whatever needs he has from a physical standpoint and how he responds to daily play as our guide on how we continue to work him back as an everyday player."
• Entering Sunday's doubleheader, Red Sox starting pitchers have limited the opposition to three runs or less in each of the club's first 16 games. Only six other teams, including last year's Pirates, have started the season with at least that many consecutive such outings.
• The Red Sox are 10-0 this season when scoring first.
• Kansas City went winless in its two doubleheaders last season, dropping both games to the Twins on June 30 and again getting swept by Minnesota on Sept. 1. Boston split its lone doubleheader last year against the Yankees on July 7.