DENVER — This time, Ryan McMahon could smile good-naturedly while discussing another big performance.
McMahon launched a career-high three home runs, the 18th such occurrence in club history. He also tied the club’s single-game record with 14 total bases. The Rockies lost their fourth straight game, 10-8 in 13 innings to the D-backs at Coors Field, but disappointment can be tempered because the season is five games old.
Last Aug. 20, McMahon homered twice against the Astros in a home loss by the same score, 10-8. But that was the Rockies’ 11th loss in 13 games. Their 11-3 start was long gone in the rear-view mirror.
“Obviously, I’d be in a lot better mood if we’d snuck out that win tonight,” McMahon said. “It was a grinder tonight. The boys fought really hard. I just felt we didn’t get a couple bounces our way.”
On a night when McMahon matched Jeff Cirillo (2000), Hall of Fame electee Larry Walker (2004) and Nolan Arenado (2017) for the club’s total bases record, the loss made it somewhat historic. No player had four extra bases, including three homers, in a losing effort since Cleveland’s Ellis Burks in a 10-9, 12-inning loss to the Twins on June 19, 2001.
But a fresh, new season — even on a night when the game was delayed 51 minutes by rain and temps dipped into the 30s during the action — is not the time to wallow. Not on a big night by a player with aspirations for being a key contributor. There was more to like.
McMahon’s first homer was followed by Dom Nuñez two batters later in the second, and Sam Hilliard homered to tie it in the bottom of the ninth.
In the disjointed nature that is losing baseball, the Rockies had a total of one hit from key lineup members Raimel Tapia, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon, but imagine if the production down in the order syncs with the guys up top.
“It’s an understatement that ‘Mac’ had a great night,” manager Bud Black said. “He had three homers and a couple great swings.
“It’s gonna take all guys in the lineup to play to their capabilities over the long haul for us to be the offense we want to be. We can’t just rely on Trevor, Chuck and, potentially, [C.J.] Cron. Everybody’s got to contribute.
After struggling with strikeouts last year, McMahon — who hit 24 homers in 2019 as a first-time regular but batted .215 last season — simplified his swing. All three homers were products of such work:
• The first came on a 3-0 pitch from D-backs starter Luke Weaver. Last time a Rockies player homered on a 3-0 pitch was McMahon, also off Weaver, on Aug. 12 last season.
“Just getting the green light gives me the confidence to just go do it,” McMahon said.
• McMahon’s second, a 420-footer off Weaver in the fourth, went to dead-center.
“That ball was out up over the plate a little bit, and he barreled it,” Black said.
• The third homer came off D-backs lefty Alex Young. McMahon entered the game with desirable left-on-left numbers — a .482 slugging percentage and .724 slugging percentage.
His past performance against lefties was fodder for conversation when Chris Owings started at second base and Josh Fuentes at third, with McMahon on the bench, on Opening Day against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. Of course, Owings had a big day in the Rockies’ first win.
McMahon drove in the final run on a 13th-inning double Tuesday.
“This is a very humbling game,” McMahon said. “It’s a very hard game. When you think you haven’t figured out, it likes to humble you. So I like where I’m at mentally and the focus I’m giving my at-bats.”