A look back at the Red Sox career of Darnell McDonald
|06.30.12 at 11:07 pm ET|
After spending three seasons in Boston, Darnell McDonald’s time with the Red Sox may have come to an end Saturday when he was designated for assignment to make room for the returning Josh Beckett.
McDonald was signed as a minor league free agent on Nov. 24, 2009, with Triple-A Pawtucket and made regular contributions with the Red Sox in 2010 when Jacoby Ellsbury went down with an injury. When Ellsbury returned, however, McDonald’s role was reduced and he played less and less over the course of his last two seasons.
During his time with the Red Sox, McDonald played in 234 games, batted .252, hit 17 home runs and drove in 67 RBIs. And despite not being a full-time player, the 33-year-old outfielder earned his share of memorable moments during his tenure with the Red Sox. Here is a list of some of those moments that Red Sox fans won’t soon forget:
– McDonald didn’t waste any time making an impact in a Red Sox uniform. On April 20, 2010, he made his debut against the Rangers as a pinch-hitter. Trailing by a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth and with Jason Varitek on base, he took Josh Reddick’s spot in the order and cranked a two-run homer over the Green Monster to tie the game at six.
The game-tying home run marked the ninth time in Red Sox history that a player hit a home run in their first at-bat and the third time in the form of a pinch-hit.
McDonald wasn’t done, though. In the bottom of the ninth, with the game still tied and the bases loaded, McDonald came up again and lifted a high fly ball that hit the Green Monster just past the leap of Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and scored Kevin Youkilis from third for the walk-off victory. The team mobbed McDonald in short left field as he became the first player in club history to collect a walk-off RBI in his debut.
In the midst of a hot streak, McDonald kept it up the next day in his second game with the Red Sox, as he homered again in an 8-7 victory.
– On Aug. 17, 2010, McDonald feasted on an offering from Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and cleared a solo home run over the Green Monster seats. NESN cameras caught the ball’s trajectory as it sailed over and broke a car’s window in a parking lot across the street from Fenway Park.
– McDonald went 0-for-4 in a forgettable performance at the plate on Aug. 26, 2011, against the Athletics, but made headlines when he came on in the ninth inning and made his pitching debut in the midst of a blowout loss.
Firing mid-80 mph fastballs with a lack of secondary pitches, the outfielder turned temporary pitcher lasted the entire inning, but walked two batters and gave up a two-run double to Josh Willingham. The game was well out of reach for a Red Sox victory, anyway, as they ultimately lost, 15-5.
McDonald’s career as a Red Sox pitcher wasn’t quite over, though, as he came on again this season on May 6 in the 17th inning of a game with the Orioles. With the Red Sox out of arms, manager Bobby Valentine gave the nod to McDonald, who let the Orioles break the game open.
The right-hander gave up a pair of walks and hits, including a three-run home run by Adam Jones that gave the Orioles a 9-6 lead they wouldn’t relinquish as they took it in 17 innings.
– McDonald saved perhaps his best highlight for last on Wednesday against the Blue Jays, which turned out to be his last game in a Red Sox uniform. With the Red Sox in firm control leading 10-4 in the ninth inning, Kelly Johnson’s solo home run bid was robbed when McDonald leapt on top of the right field wall, and nearly fell into the bullpen, to make the grab.
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