McMahon's homer makes some happy memories

Third baseman ends drought with solo jack, helps Rockies even set against Royals

May 15th, 2022

DENVER -- All of Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon’s nights after home games end in a frenzy of noise and fur.

“I get greeted by my dog every night, Radley,” McMahon said, smiling. “It’s usually hard to be mad when that fluffball is all up in my face. She’s a 100-pound Bernadoodle. She just gets excited, does these little circles and rubs on my legs until I pet her.”

The difference on Saturday was that McMahon had reason to smile about his night, before setting it aside and bracing for Radley’s joyous charge. McMahon knocked his third home run of the season, a seventh-inning leadoff shot after a 50 at-bat drought, as part of a cleansing 10-4 victory over the Royals at Coors Field.

With Charlie Blackmon ending his 53 at-bat homerless streak, Sam Hilliard continuing his emergence from a slump with his second homer in as many nights, and righty Germán Márquez earning his first win of the season, plenty of Rockies at least left happy feelings at the park when they were greeted by loved ones, pets or both. Colorado ended a losing streak at five games and will go for the series win on Sunday.

Too many nights lately, McMahon has had to push away opposite feelings and incidents before going home to his wife, Natalie, not to mention the ever-energetic Radley. Friday’s series opener against the Royals was one of those.

McMahon, a Gold Glove Award finalist last year, fumbled a ground ball that could have started an easy double play. It was McMahon’s seventh error, matching last year’s full-season total. The mistake helped lead to a 14-10 loss to the Royals in which six of the opponent’s runs were unearned. It was another dose of unexpectedly bad defense all over the field.

“Last night, making another error really got to me,” McMahon said. “It got me pretty good. But you go home, go to bed, then go through the next day. You’ve got to realize it’s about coming back the next day, playing baseball with your teammates. For me, personally, it’s weathering the storm. Everybody has to do that.

“That's what good teams do, get through it quicker.”

The last three non-playoff years and outside expectations aside, the Rockies maintain a belief that they can be a good team. The current stretch -- losing six of their last seven before Saturday, including going 1-5 on a road trip within the National League West -- was the first test of that belief. An immature team lets a bad stretch define its season, when in reality it’s likely every team will have a skid as bad or worse.

McMahon climbed through the Rockies’ system since being selected in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft, fought through, at times, rough growing pains to become a lineup regular, and this spring signed a six-year, $70 million contract extension. It adds up to McMahon being a key roster piece. With that, however, comes a responsibility to always put team concerns first.

So the errors and the slow start in the home run category challenged McMahon to realize he’s not alone.

“We have a lot of guys in this room who care and who really want to win,” said McMahon, whose homer came off Royals reliever Ronald Bolaños. “So when that [bad streak] happens, and when things just kind of aren't really going your way, you see a lot of guys start pressing. So I think we just need to start relaxing. Keep passing the baton on. Anybody can come through in any situation.”

Colorado’s 20 runs in the last two games is a reversal from the weak offense on the road trip to Arizona and San Francisco.

“Let’s see over a larger sample size, but it’s good to see,” said manager Bud Black, whose team has split the first two of a nine-game homestand.

And whether McMahon struggles or succeeds, he will have to take it in stride.

“When you go home, you’ve got to be the best husband, the best boyfriend, the best dad, whatever you are to the people in your life,” McMahon said. “When you’re pressing and collectively taking it home, you bring it to the ballpark the next day. You’ve got to show up at the ballpark fresh, start a new day. You’ve got to attack it like that.”

And Radley will spin circles to remind him.