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Usually bustling Boston eerily quiet

Royals glued to televisions watching manhunt for Marathon bomber

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- It's late Friday afternoon and hardly a car or a person is moving on the streets below, streets that the evening before were teeming with traffic and pedestrians -- many of them students from MIT.

Cambridge and surrounding cities, including the great city of Boston across the Charles River, have been largely shut down.

An MIT police officer lost his life on Thursday night, while a subsequent gunfight several miles away killed one of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. One suspect escaped and an extensive manhunt was underway. "Armed and dangerous" are the cautionary bywords.

Because of that, the Royals' game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night was postponed. In view of the circumstances, that had low priority.

"I appreciate what Boston is doing by canceling the game," Royals infielder Elliot Johnson tweeted. "You would much rather play, but there are bigger things at stake here than baseball."

An intermittent line of cars, very few of them, passes on the usually busy expressway along the river on the Boston side. It is an eerie, surreal sight in a usually bustling city.

The flotilla of sailboats that dappled the sparkling waters of the river on Thursday evening is nowhere to be seen. Not a boat goes by.

Across the river, in the Royals' hotel, manager Ned Yost was scanning the streets.

"If you were here watching it, the police are doing their job," Yost said by phone. "They're making every effort to make sure everybody is safe and working their tails off to catch this guy."

The governor, mayor and police warned all of Boston to stay indoors, because the suspect was considered armed and dangerous.

"Nothing I've ever been a part of," pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said.

Nor has anyone else in baseball seen a game postponed because of a terrorist manhunt. An earthquake halted the World Series for 10 days in 1989, and 9/11 halted play for six days in 2001. Now this.

"Most of us are just glued to the television and hoping and anticipating that they'll catch them -- and hoping that it happens without any more fatalities," Guthrie said.

A few blocks from this hotel in Cambridge, according to TV reports, there will be "a controlled explosion" at a residence, apparently to destroy some sort of weapon. In nearby Watertown, where the shootout occurred, police were searching house to house.

MIT and other schools along the river have been closed. Businesses were urged to stay closed until further notice. Mass transit was shut down, but planes were flying at Logan Airport. The taxis leaving the hotel were permitted to go only to the airport.

A couple of military policemen stopped by the hotel lobby. They had advised a man on the street to go inside for his safety. He refused, citing his rights, and the police let him go at his own risk. The man sat defiantly on a chair outside the hotel.

The Royals' players were told not to leave their downtown hotel, and Yost joined them for a buffet lunch.

"They're all doing fine," Yost said. "They're just like everybody else. They're just waiting to see what the plan is."

The team's hotel is very near where the Marathon bombs exploded.

"I can look out and see where the bombings took place," Yost said, "and the police are still all over there."

In the aftermath of Monday's bombings, baseball around the country thundered its support of Boston and its people. It's the baseball family in action.

"They do a great job of reaching out, whether it's honoring someone who's lost their life or getting behind causes," Guthrie said. "Baseball seems to grab everything that it can and erase boundaries when there's stuff going on in the world of more importance."

Friday night's Royals-Red Sox game was not to be the first major sports event to be held in Boston since the bombing. The Boston Bruins had played at TD Garden on Wednesday night in front of an enthusiastic and emotional crowd, losing to the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2. As The Boston Globe put it: "With sorrow, terror, and festering defiance tugging at our town, TD Garden swung open its doors ..."

No one on Friday seemed very concerned about a ballgame or another hockey game, which the Bruins had scheduled against Pittsburgh. They were just hoping that a dangerous terrorist would be caught.

"It's an unfortunate situation," said pitcher James Shields, contacted by phone. "As long as we catch this guy, we'll be good to go."

And finally, shortly before 8 p.m. CT in Watertown, Mass., that suspect was captured. The empty streets could come to life again.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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