By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
McDonald collected a season-high three hits, smacked an important home run that helped chase Kansas Citys lefty out after the sixth inning, and was in the middle of an eighth-inning rally that pushed the game out of reach in a 6-1 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
McDonald actually credited a bunt single in Saturday nights loss as the little thing that helped spark the athletic outfielder, and get him into an offensive flow thats seemingly eluded him all season.
Hey, whatever works.
Its funny how this game works. The littlest things will get you going, said McDonald. The bunt yesterday and just getting on base were little things that just got me going.
I was able to put some good swings on the ball. This team has been throwing a lot of fastballs with two strikes, so I was looking for it and was able to put a good swing on it. Its no secret that the more at bats you get, the easier it is to get your timing down. The main focus for me is to just try and swing at good pitches. Just put quality swings on the baseball . . . Im feeling good at the plate right now.
The three hits pushed McDonalds batting average up to .196 on the season after it had been below his playing weight for far too much of the year. The performance also had Terry Francona stressing exactly how important McDonald could be if he can punish left-handed pitching down the stretch and into the playoffs just as he did during the summer of 2010.
With nary a whisper of the Sox moving on any waiver deadline deals, it appears that Theo Epstein and Co. are evaluating exactly what they have already on the roster before heading out with the shopping cart to the trade market.
McDonald made a nice little statement on Sunday.
We need that," Francona said. "That right-handed bat playing that position is big for us. He hit up in the lineup and he did some things. That was a big part of us winning. Hes been in and out, I guess. Hes been a little inconsistent. One thing we do know is that if he gets a pitch he can hit it out of the ballpark. Today he got some hits also, but hes that threat and if he can hit homers that would be huge.
McDonald finished 2-for-3 against lefty Danny Duffy with a home run on Sunday and upped his season average against left-handed pitching to .229 (17-for-70) with five home runs. His numbers need to continue climbing over the seasons final six weeks if he wants to fend off all comers for a potential playoff roster spot, and thats foremost on his mind at this point.
Its important for me to hit and to contribute, said McDonald. Thats my job; to hit lefties. So to be able to go out and have a day like I did definitely feels good.
Theres no doubting that Sundays three-hit performance was a good start for McDonald.
But it has to be just that if the good-natured fourth outfielder wants to hold on to the nice little niche hes carved out for himself in Boston over the last two years.