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McDonald glad to make overdue impact

04.22.10 at 12:16 am ET
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Maybe it’s the two-syllable name that makes certain players far more conducive to having a chant accompany their appearances, whether hometown heroes or rival villains. Roger. Darryl.  Nomar. Manny. Papi.

Darnell?

Surprising as it is, that was the case in the at-bats following Darnell’s fourth-inning homer that both extended a Sox lead and made him the first player since Sam Horn in 1987 to homer in each of his first two games with the Red Sox.

“I definitely didn’t expect that,” Red Sox outfielder and former first-round pick Darnell McDonald said after the second day of his trip from career minor-leaguer to Fenway favorite. “It’s unbelievable. I’m honored and I definitely appreciate it. These are the best fans in the world.”

McDonald also had a crucial assist on a play that kept Julio Borbon from crossing the plate on a Michael Young sacrifice fly. All of this a night after homering and providing the walkoff double for Tuesday night’s 7-6 victory. The 1997 first-rounder that never stuck in the bigs is finally in the spotlight and he’s soaking up every second, as difficult as it may be in these conditions.

“I don’t think anything can prepare you [for Fenway Park],” McDonald said. “I’ve played Winter Ball in Venzuela. It’s similar, but these are the best fans in the world and I appreciate the applause and stuff. It definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.”

As for the personal accomplishments and etching his name in the record books with Horn, the enthusiastic McDonald is both flattered and humble, excited and focused.

“When you mention Sam Horn, man, to be honest with you I’m just going up there and trying to put a good swing on the ball,” McDonald said. “I’ve been fortunate to get some good pitches, like the ball today. I didn’t know if it was going to get out, but I knew I hit it good. My approach is just going up there and seeing how many times I can put a good swing on the ball.”

The 26th overall pick in ’97 by the Orioles, McDonald never quite panned out, as he didn’t reach the Majors until 2004, in which he played 17 games with Baltimore and hit just .156 with no homers. He finally hit two in Cincinnati last season, but what took him 47 games a year ago has taken him just two in Boston. Even so, the personal accomplishments aren’t a priority for McDonald. With the Red Sox struggling to keep up in the AL East early on, McDonald will continue to feed off the positive energy at Fenway, but more importantly the back-to-back walkoff wins.

“It sure beats losing,” McDonald said. “I’m happy that I’ve been here two days and we’ve won two games.”

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