James McDonald Makes Solid Impression

It wasn't exactly an audition, but it turned out that way. In the third inning of the second game of the NLCS, with the Dodgers trailing 8-2 and the bases loaded, manager Joe Torre called 23-year-old James McDonald in from the bullpen in front of a Citizens Bank Park crowd of 43,883 on their feet screaming and waiving white handkerchiefs.

McDonald, LADugout Top Pitcher in 2007 and the Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the past two seasons, struck out Phillie slugger Pat Burrell to end the inning, then went on to add three scoreless innings to keep his club in the thick of the battle.

Following the instructions passed on by Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in the bullpen before he entered the game, McDonald didn't hesitate to use every pitch in his arsenal immediately upon entering the game.

He allowed a pair of harmless singles in the fourth inning, then held the Phillies hitless in the fifth and sixth, striking out four more -- Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Burrell for the second time and Greg Dobbs.

"It wasn't nervousness," McDonald told the Los Angeles Times of his feelings with the bases loaded in the third inning. "It was an excitement. This is where I wanted to be. This is where I expected to be."

Of the six pitchers the Dodgers used in the game, catcher Russell Martin said he didn't see anyone better than McDonald, the September call-up who made his postseason debut.

"First bit of action in the postseason, the bases are loaded and he gets this guy out," Torre said. "He struck out Burrell and went onto pitch three more innings, going through everybody.

"I was very impressed. I think we found out a little bit about that young man tonight."

McDonald didn't make his major-league debut until Sept. 17. And had pitched only a total of six innings over the rest of the season but didn't allow an earned run and gave up just five hits.

Dodgers were impressed enough by what they saw late in the season to add him to their postseason roster.

The 6-foot-5, 195-pounder was originally an 11th-round draft pick out of Golden West Community College, and has spent his five-year career as a starter. The righthander split time between Jacksonville Las Vegas, going 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA.

"I'm the type of guy who shoots for the stars always," McDonald said. "The goal was to be in the big leagues, though maybe I didn't expect to be right here."

Neither did the Dodgers not so long ago but they were glad that he was.

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