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James McDonald throws seven, showers himself with Gatorade

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

Pittsburgh Pirates starter James McDonald finally got the monkey off his back on Thursday night. After failing to complete seven innings in his last 24 starts, McDonald finally recorded his elusive 21st out when he got Chicago Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin to fly out routinely to right field.

After the ball landed in the glove of teammate Xavier Paul, McDonald reacted rather uniquely. First, McDonald hopped off the mound and made a few self-congratulations gestures. He then pointed in the direction of a few teammates, almost as if to say "I told you so," followed by a point skyward upon entry into the dugout. He then concluded the unusual celebration by dumping two full cups of Gatorade over his own head.

Watch the celebration for yourself:

I can't remember the last time a dugout Gatorade dispenser was involved in a story with a pitcher and didn't die at the end. Finally: A happy ending for the juice jug.

A little more on McDonald: That he lasted seven was obviously an accomplishment in itself, at least for him, but it was made a little more impressive given the way the game started. Within the first three innings he allowed home runs to Geovany Soto, Carlos Pena and Blake DeWitt, and found himself down 4-0. That marks the first time he's allowed three home runs in 38 starts and 85 overall appearances.

McDonald also had reason to celebrate his night at the plate, though his reaction was far more subdued when he laced a bases-clearing double into the left-center field gap, giving Pittsburgh a 5-4 lead in the fourth. Those were McDonald's first career RBIs. {YSP: MORE}

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When he exited after seven, Pittsburgh's lead sat at 6-4.

Unfortunately, the celebration would end up being premature. Pittsburgh's bullpen would falter in the eighth. Manager Clint Hurdle would go through three different relievers before the fourth, Jose Veras, was able to record the first out of the inning. Chicago plated three in the frame, giving them a 7-6 lead that eventually became the final score and completed their stunning four-game series sweep.

McDonald was certainly disappointed by the team loss, but took a quick moment to explain the personal satisfaction of finally pitching seven innings.

From MLB.com:

"For me, it was an accomplishment," McDonald said. "I feel like it's been on my back all year, not going seven innings. It was good going seven, but it would've been better going six with a win for the team."

The win would have been the perfect ending for McDonald. Even without it, it was nice to see some levity from a Pirate as they attempt to shake out of their first extended slump of the season. This positive and upbeat attitude, which was certainly brought on board by Hurdle, may not help them turn it around and make the playoffs, but it'll keep them from going crazy on the journey.

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