In recent games, comebacks, good hitting, and walk-offs have become a constant for the Colorado Rockies. On Thursday, in a back and forth 11-10 walk-off victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks, that trend continued. It was a true team victory for the Rockies; eight different players contributed at least one hit to the team’s season high of 18.
Veteran Daniel Murphy was the hero for hitting the walk-off single in the 10th inning, but the two stars of the game were youngsters, David Dahl and Ryan McMahon.
Dahl, 25, and McMahon, 24, had career games in a matchup where the balls were flying far and often. It was like the old days at Coors Field before the humidor.
Both players (Dahl especially) have had solid seasons, but neither is regarded as the cream of the crop when it comes to hitting on a Rockies team that features Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon.
In Thursday's game alone, Arenado extended his hitting streak to 10-games, Story tied a career high with four hits, Ian Desmond had a pinch hit home run and Daniel Murphy hit a walk-off single.
While each of those performances was needed in the Rockies fourth walk-off win in six days, none of them impacted the game like their younger teammates.
Dahl and McMahon flexed power, touch, and composure at the plate.
All of these factors point to the maturation of two of the two former highly regarded prospects.
Dahl went a career-high 4-for-5, finishing with three singles, two RBIs and a 392 ft home run. He also added a walk to his stat sheet.
McMahon, who has been splitting time with Brendan Rodgers as of late, was equally impressive. He went 3-for-4 with a single, double, two RBI’s and a 458 ft upper deck home run. He also added a walk.
Dahl’s and McMahon’s home runs occurred in the second and third innings respectively and both gave the Rockies the lead.
“David (Dahl) had a great day, four hits, opposite field homer and some good swings. Mac (McMahon) got a hold of a breaking ball and hit it in the second deck. He had a big walk, and he's having good at-bats,” Rockies Manager Bud Black said. “It's the talent of the group that I think is starting to show up overall.”
The duo has a lot in common. They were born just 257 days apart, bat left-handed and were high draft picks in consecutive drafts (Dahl, taken ninth overall 2012, and McMahon 42nd 2013).
Dahl has all the intangibles to be a star. He is a fluid athlete who could dunk a basketball in the eighth grade. This season he has quietly emerged as a consistent two-way player for the Rockies. He is second on the team in batting average (.319) and consistent in the outfield.
On Thursday, Dahl showed fans why Rockies fans why Black entrusted him with the coveted third batting position.
Following the game, he was focused more on the team's resiliency, compared to his personal performance.
“It's tough, but we know we've done it before,” Dahl said. “I guess the big thing when you get in a situation is just having that experience.”
McMahon doesn’t possess the same athleticism as Dahl but has shown potential in the infield, and fully displayed his power with his upper deck home run on Thursday.
“He (T.J. Mcfarland) made a good pitch away, and I think you know, the catcher was probably thinking I was thinking about trying to cover that pitch. I was just focused on getting back to my approach, waiting for him to make a mistake and I got one,” McMahon said of his 6th home run of the season.
While it was a career day for McMahon, he fell one triple short of hitting for the cycle (hitting a single, double, triple, home run in one game).
“It's hard for me to get a triple. I'm not very fast,” McMahon laughed. “I don't really worry about that stuff. Especially during the game.”
Dahl and McMahon are two crucial pieces of the Rockies young nucleus of talent. The pair will be integral pieces in the team’s success this year and beyond.
Black is excited that the duo’s big league adjustment “process” is coming to an end. The two former coveted prospects are coming into their own as big leaguers and beginning to meet the high expectations placed upon them years ago.
“I think that they're in a great frame of frame of mind to take on this part of being a big leaguer,” Black said. “It’s great to see. You can tell by the conversations we’re having, how they’re going through their day...It's collected, it's poised, there's intensity, but yet there's confidence.”
The Rockies have shown resilience all season long. They have overcome deficits, poor pitching and a terrible start to the year to find themselves above .500 for the first time since March 30, the third game of the season. Thursday’s victory also marks the Rockies first four-game sweep of the 2019 season.
“We obviously didn't start the way we want to, but I think we're slowly but surely getting to our peak performance and, hopefully, we hit our stride and just keep on rolling,” McMahon said.
The development of McMahon and Dahl have contributed to the turnaround. The key for the Rockies moving forward is building off their momentum, and hoping the pitching improves.
“I think right now we're playing good baseball, Dahl said. “We just got to keep it going. (There’s a) lot of game left, (a) lot of season. We’re trying to win as many as we can and hopefully at the end of the year, we are right there.”