DENVER — Ryan McMahon’s first home run of the season — a 447-footer into the second deck of Coors Field on Sunday afternoon — will be fun to talk about. But the more meaningful conversations will be about McMahon’s roll-over grounder to end the seventh inning and other at-bats like it after the 6-4 loss to the Cubs.
The Rockies — who fell behind, 5-0, after the fifth inning and entered the seventh down by three — loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. Kris Bryant drove in the only run on a sacrifice fly. Elias Díaz struck out, then McMahon grounded out against Mychal Givens, who walked two in the inning but walked away with the Cubs’ lead intact.
The team’s 1-for-7 performance with runners in scoring position on Sunday dropped the Rockies to 20-for-89 (.225) with 23 strikeouts in that situation. The loss meant a series split with Chicago but a still-solid 6-3 start for Colorado; however, making better use of their opportunities is an emphasis. Part of the challenge is simply not letting missed opportunities linger.
“It’s all about the attitude you take into it as a team,” McMahon said. “Feel free to have conversations, like, ‘Hey, man, I know it’s tough.’ Because we all want to succeed for each other, and we want to come through in those situations. Nobody’s trying not to.
“The more you keep those conversations going, it helps everybody move past it better. With the talent that we have here, we’re going to expect ourselves to succeed a lot.”
There are plenty of opportunities for the Rockies to offer one another encouragement. Díaz grounded into a double play against an effective starter in Drew Smyly in the first after C.J. Cron struck out with two on. José Iglesias flied out with one on, and Connor Joe grounded out with two on in the fifth.
Givens, who pitched for the Rockies from 2019-20, proved to be “effectively wild,” according to McMahon — either missing his spot repeatedly or hitting his spot when the ball was put in play. Manager Bud Black, much like McMahon, avoided any temptation to despair. For example, he noted Díaz — whose RBI single in the sixth was Colorado’s only hit with a runner in scoring position — had foul balls on “a couple of good swings.”
“You’d like to think you’d come through in every single situation,” Black said. “We thwarted their guys a little bit, too. Same thing.”
But McMahon will walk away with the memory of clubbing a full-count pitch from Michael Rucker out in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 5-3. McMahon left Spring Training feeling confident in his swing, but he felt he overswung in some juicy situations when the regular season began. He is hitting .250, but his calling card is his power. He hit 24 home runs in 2019 and 23 last season, and an increase of his total would be big for the Rockies’ offense.
“It was a good swing, for sure,” Black said. “He got on a fastball, pull side, and hit a homer, which is good to see. But it’s still early — 30-plus at-bats. ‘Mac’ is going to be a guy, if he stays healthy, who is going to get 600-650 plate appearances. He’s fine.”
McMahon was happy with what the homer did for his teammates.
“It felt good — at that point in the game, we were down a little bit, and we started putting a little pressure on,” McMahon said. “Good feeling for me, good for our team. We had our chances. It didn’t go our way today. But guys are keeping ourselves in good situations.”