McMahon finds missing power in win over Padres

August 5th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The performance numbers at times have been painful for Rockies third baseman . But on Thursday, when he returned to the dugout after trotting out a three-run homer as part of a five-RBI day, keying a 7-3 victory over the Padres, he felt a good kind of hurt.

Manager Bud Black slid McMahon from his customary third base to second, one of his old positions. Regular second baseman Brendan Rodgers took a break from his rare rest day to greet McMahon, let’s say, enthusiastically.

“He doesn’t know how strong he is,” McMahon said. “He gave me a chest bump and [almost] knocked me on my butt.”

McMahon and the Rockies needed some opportunities for full-contact affection.

Colorado had not only dropped five straight, including the first four in the five-game series with the Padres, but Thursday’s victory was just their fourth in 15 games since the All-Star break. McMahon needed not only Thursday, when he tied his career single-game high for RBIs -- all off the Padres’ formidable starter Joe Musgrove -- but his performance throughout this series. He went 7-for-15 with six RBIs and a stolen base, and can use it as a starting point for turning around a rough season.

The whole time in San Diego, the Rockies have looked bogged down. They witnessed the Padres, already daunting, trade and trade until they were giddy with World Series dreams. They were the foil for huge crowds at Petco Park. And Rockies all over the roster have been trying to shed their individual struggles.

In the first year of a six-year, $70 million contract, McMahon has nine homers, after finishing the last two full-schedule seasons with 24 in 2019 and 23 last season. He is batting .241 with a .336 on-base percentage, but with a below-expectations .384 slugging percentage. While he says he hasn’t been chasing numbers -- “I stopped looking at them a long time ago,” he quipped -- he said his disappointment in the season weighed on him.

“I got to have a nice little talk with Buddy before the series,” McMahon said. “He kind of brought it back down to Earth. ‘Just go focus on these things and play, and don’t worry about it.’ I just had some good reminders. We get caught up, we see different things in this game, and we start worrying about the wrong stuff, instead of just being a good teammate playing good baseball every day.”

McMahon might see more time at second or even first base as the Rockies try to find starts for No. 6 prospect Elehuris Montero, who went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts on Thursday and had hits in all three starts in San Diego. McMahon, a standout defender at second and third, is fine with moving around defensively for more chances to solidify his offensive game.

McMahon’s first hit Thursday, a two-run double past first base in the third inning, was the type of hit he’s looking for. Musgrove tried to go inside with a fastball but missed over the plate. McMahon, who has good plate awareness but has not performed as well against heaters as he expects, scorched it.

“I honed in,” McMahon said. “I was going to let him strike me out if he painted the edges. I was just trying to dominate the middle. It helped me get off my best swing.”

Said Black: “I liked that he was on the fastball, and he got the hanging breaking ball and hit it in the seats.”