McDonald finds his groove vs. Royals

191542.jpg

McDonald finds his groove vs. Royals

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.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

usatsi_9355232.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers:

QUOTES

* “(Matt) Bush has tremendous arm, but what we’ve seen . . . I don’t know that there’s anyone that throws a hard enough to get it by Mookie [Betts]. Just lightening bat speed . . . The dugout erupted when he caught it.” - Farrell said on Betts’ ninth inning homerun.

* “It was an outstanding comeback. Just a tremendous character win tonight by our guys. The work that our bullpen did tonight was just outstanding. ” - John Farrell said following the comeback win over Texas.

* “Koji comes back after a couple of rough outings and was vintage Koji here tonight.” - Farrell said on Uehara striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save

* “The homerun. Without that homerun, you don’t get to that wild pitch.” - Jackie Bradley said on what the Red Sox dugout was more excited about in the ninth.

* “Winning, to me that’s everything. I definitely want to go out there and throw the baseball better. I want to win myself. But at the end of the day I want the Red Sox to win.” - David Price said following the Red Sox win, despite his inability to keep the game close throughout the duration of his start.

NOTES

* David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his fourth inning single. He’s now 12 for his last 36 during his 10-game hitting streak.

* Sandy Leon’s ninth inning double was his 12th hit of the year. He’s now 12-for-22 (.545) to start his 2016 campaign. Four of his hits are doubles and he also has four RBI. 

* David Price’s 2.1-inning start is his shortest with Boston yet. The lefty gave up a season-worst 12 hits -- the most hits he’s given up since May 8th last season in a 6.1 inning start.

* Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homerun marks his third in the last ten games.

* The Red Sox improve to 22-3 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a homerun following his 13th homerun of the season.

STARS

1) Mookie Betts

Betts had over three hours between his two base hits, but his second proved the most important. He launched a 2-0 fastball into left center, tying the game in the ninth.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley laced a homerun into the right field second deck to put Boston in striking distance at 7-4. In addition to knocking in two runs, he scored in the ninth after he walked, starting the ninth inning comeback. 

3) Koji Uehara

Despite struggling of late, Uehara was called on to close and struck out the side to seal the win. He was the final piece of the 6.2 innings of relief from the bullpen that came in one of Boston’s biggest wins of the year.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

usatsi_9355096.jpg

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Texas Rangers:

Boston’s offense is always in striking distance.

The Red Sox had an uphill battle from the get-go thanks to David Price’s tough outing.

But somehow they took advantage of Texas’ equally bad pitching—that just happened to be more spread out than Boston’s bad pitching.

If Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t earn a walk, or Sandy Leon doesn’t fight tooth and nail for a two-out double in the ninth, that Mookie Betts homerun can’t happen.

The Red Sox need another long outing from Steven Wright.

Obviously they’d prefer a strong performance -- but the knuckler may need to bite the bullet if he’s off Saturday night.

Boston’s bullpen has been used and abused of late, and needs some rest following the Chicago series and a 2.1 inning outing from Price.

Price continues to struggle against the Rangers in his career.

Even when he was able to walk out of the first with just the one run after a bases loaded double play, but couldn’t clamp down with two outs.

The biggest reason he struggled wasn’t his velocity—although it seemed down most of the night—but his location. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Texas is not the team you can do that with.

Although Price was bound to have a rough start, this start went worse than anyone could’ve anticipated. To say this was a bad start is putting it nicely.

Texas gave him a nice wake-up call. He still has room to grow.

Matt Barnes had a solid performance.

It wasn’t his best, but given the situation, he did well. First off, the Rangers are a very hot team and swing early in the count. Barnes left the ball up time after times, but only surrendered the one run.

Additionally, he entered the game far earlier than he’s used to -- in the midst of a blowout where his team was on the wrong end. That’s not an easy thing to walk into for a reliever, especially one who’s used to pitching late in tight ballgames.

He gave Boston a chance when the offense started to gain momentum.

Hanley Ramirez’s power continues to show.

Although he’s not hitting at the rate he did to start the year, Ramirez laced another homer against the Rangers Friday night.

This homerun may have been his most impressive, coming on a 1-2 slider away, driving it to straightaway center -- the deepest part of the ballpark.

Boston just saw what they look like when they almost blow games.

All season the talk around the league has been how explosive the Red Sox lineup is.

Well, the Rangers offense is right there with them. The league’s hottest team didn’t waist any time scoring, and had 15 hits before Boston pitching recorded an out in the fifth inning.

Although the Red Sox outslugged Texas late, they saw what a potent offense outside the AL East can do -- and how bad pitching can undo all of that.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar