The Ryan McMahon redemption tour is gathering steam.
A season defined by inconsistency at the plate and struggles in the field has taken a turn since the start of August, with Saturday night the latest chapter for the team’s starting third baseman.
One night after blowing a three-run lead, the Rockies evened their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks after McMahon delivered a clutch ninth-inning home run for a 3-2 victory Saturday at Chase Field.
Down 1-2 in the count to D-backs reliever Ian Kennedy, McMahon drove a chest-high 94 mph fastball 421 feet into the seats in left-center field. The late-game heroics followed three straight two-hit games at San Diego for McMahon, who didn’t get an at-bat Friday.
The 27-year-old is now hitting .444 (8-for-18) with two homers early on in August, performing like the player the Rockies signed to a six-year, $70 million extension prior to the season.
“This is more Mac-like,” Rockies manager Bud Black told reporters in Arizona. “This is the performer Mac envisions himself to be.”
Closer Daniel Bard made quick work of the D-backs in the bottom of the inning, retiring the side for his 23rd save in 25 opportunities this season. Reliever Carlos Estevez got the win after pitching a scoreless eighth inning prior to McMahon’s 10th homer of the season.
The win moved the Rockies to 48-62 on the season, three losses behind Arizona (47-59) in the NL West cellar.
Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela and rising rookie Elehuris Montero gave McMahon a chance to play hero.
While the former was steady over seven innings on the mound, the latter smashed his first major league home run as part of his second consecutive multi-hit game.
Senzatela induced a pair of ground ball double plays, as he scattered nine hits with two strikeouts and zero walks. He also benefitted from a tremendous turn-back-the-clock play from right fielder Charlie Blackmon, who dove to catch Josh Rojas liner, then popped up and fired a strike to catcher Brian Serven to throw out Seth Beer at home plate.
Montero’s homer came with the Rockies trailing 2-1 in the top of the eighth inning, with the rookie jumping all over starter Merrill Kelly’s 2-1 pitch and sending it screaming over the left field fence.
“All hitters like hits, and all hitters love home runs,” Black said. “… You saw the smile on his face when he approached the dugout, that was such good stuff.”
Kelly, who held the Rockies scoreless for five innings before giving up runs in the sixth and seventh, was chased after Brian Serven singled one batter later. Colorado went on to put runners on first and second with one out, but D-backs reliever Joe Mantiply was saved when second baseman Ketel Marte stretched to snare a Brendan Rodgers line drive, then turned and fired a throw to second to double up Serven.
Randal Grichuk followed up Friday night’s three-hit night with an RBI single that tied the game at 1-all in the top of the sixth.
Arizona’s Daulton Varsho answered with a solo home run off Senzatela in the bottom half of the sixth, giving the D-backs their second lead of the night, 2-1. But Montero and McMahon’s bombs soon followed, and the Rockies set up a rubber match Sunday at Chase Field to decide the three-game series.