CLEVELAND -- For their entire existence, the Red Sox have always hailed from Boston, but it would be hard to imagine an occasion in which they played more for their city than in Tuesday night's 7-2 victory over the Indians.
One day after two bombs at the Boston Marathon killed three and injured close to 200, the Red Sox tried to create a diversion for their ravenous fan base by performing the simple act of playing a baseball game.
Maybe for those nine innings and three-plus hours, New Englanders could turn away from somber news coverage and watch the Red Sox improve to 9-4 on the season.
"Given the events and the tragedy of yesterday, this was a good way to send some positive energy back toward Boston," said manager John Farrell. "[The tragedy] was fresh on everyone's mind. Even though we might not be in Boston right now, we carry this with us. We feel very much a part of the city of Boston, the community and everything that goes on there. We have not forgotten by any means."
Wearing black armbands on their left sleeves and hoisting a symbolic uniform ("Boston 617 Strong" on the back) in the dugout, it was clear the Red Sox kept the tragedy close to their hearts.
"It was obviously not a normal game," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "I mean, the stuff before the game and during the game -- it's in your mind. You know, we're obviously thinking about what's going on back home. We know a lot of people are back home watching, trying to maybe hopefully get something to take their mind off what's happening there. We're going to come out and play as hard as we can and we'll be home in a couple days."
Jonny Gomes suggested the idea of a Boston area code-numbered jersey to clubhouse manager Tom McLaughlin, who carried out the task on short notice. After the game, the jersey was hanging on a post in the clubhouse.
"They're out of sight right now, but definitely not out of mind," Gomes said of Boston. "How far is that jersey going to stretch? I don't know, but it was just the fact of letting people know we have a heavy heart over here. Today, we had Boston across our chests -- we didn't have our own individual names. That being said, we're representing the whole community and the area."
The Boston bats, helped by a meltdown from Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez, broke through with a seven-spot in the top of the second inning.
Mike Napoli, fresh off his walk-off hit on Monday, delivered two doubles in that second, including a bases-clearing double.
"What happened yesterday was terrible. I can't even explain how everyone felt in this clubhouse," said Napoli. "It's just a weird feeling. It's sad that something like that can happen. All our hearts are with the people in Boston, the families, the people that got hurt. That's a sad situation. Hopefully we can help the people back there as much as possible by whatever we can do -- playing on the baseball field or whatever."
This was the first time the Red Sox played against Indians manager Terry Francona since his departure from Boston after the 2011 season. Francona won two World Series championships in his eight seasons with the Sox.
Before the game, the Red Sox and Indians lined up along the baselines for a moment of silence. "Sweet Caroline," a Fenway Park staple, was played moments before the first pitch.
"I'm not sure how to describe the feelings," Francona said. "You're sad and you think of a lot of things. We get so wrapped up in a baseball game, because it's so important to us, and then you look up and you realize why you're having a moment of silence. If you need perspective, it gives it to you in a hurry."
Felix Doubront, who was making his second start of the year, did enough to get the win. The lefty went five innings and allowed four hits, two runs and four walks. He struck out seven.
After a scoreless first, Jimenez completely fell apart in the second, walking five batters.
Napoli started the rally with a double. Jimenez put the next three batters on via a walk, the latter of which forced in a run. Pedro Ciriaco drove in another run with a sacrifice fly. Then came an RBI single from Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk to Shane Victorino and yet another walk to Pedroia that forced in another run.
At that point, Francona had no choice but to go to his bullpen. On came righty Cody Allen, and Napoli greeted him with a three-run double to center.
"The first inning he went out and he was crisp and down," Francona said of Jimenez. "And then the second inning, he didn't throw strikes. Even when he worked ahead, he went off the plate, and he stayed off the plate. As that inning [progressed], it looked like he didn't want to give up any and he ended up giving up a crooked number. He threw a lot of pitches."
The Indians came back with one run against Doubront in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Mike Aviles.
Doubront ran into some trouble in the fifth, giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. A run scored on a passed ball by David Ross, making it a 7-2 game, but Doubront got out of the jam by inducing Mark Reynolds into a popup.
"Minimizing the damage was important," Doubront said. "That inning was tough for me. I was thinking, 'Just one pitch away and throw the pitch and whatever happens.' I threw a really good changeup to Reynolds, and he popped up. That's what I was looking for."