Chris McMahon didn’t get a chance to pitch much last year – not that many did.
His junior season at University of Miami was cut short due to the pandemic, as was his appointment to Team USA. That didn’t keep the Colorado Rockies from using their second-round pick in the 2020 draft on the Philadelphia native, and he immediately slotted as the No. 8 prospect in the Rockies’ organization.
He wasn’t assigned to the Rockies’ alternate training site after the draft, though, so he was left to throw on his own over the summer and bide his time for his first professional start.
“Yeah, it was definitely a little different,” McMahon said of his training regimen last year. “Obviously, the college season getting banged then the draft happening and still kind of not having a season over the summer then waiting until October for instructional league.
“So it is a little frustrating, but I think the wait was worth it.”
That wait ended Wednesday evening at Avista Stadium when McMahon took the hill for the first time as a pro. He didn’t factor in the decision, but he showed why the Rockies invested in him.
Eugene exploded for four runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh against the bullpen, and the Emeralds pulled away from the Spokane Indians 8-6 in a High-A West League clash.
McMahon pitched well in his debut, allowing six hits, including a two-run home run, with a walk and six strikeouts over five innings.
“I thought he did a great job, he mixed his pitches” manager Scott Little said. “A lot of breaking pitches, early in the game and I think he established his bfastball a little better later.”
Indians reliever Trent Fennell didn’t fare nearly as well. He coughed up four runs on four hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.
McMahon felt good to be back out on the mound for the first time in 16 months.
“Excited to be back out there playing again,” he said. “Everything felt good overall.
“It’s been a long time kind. I kind of just wanted to enjoy the moment, not trying to put too much pressure on myself to go out there pitch.”
Little’s not concerned about the sluggish start. Not yet, anyway.
“Let’s get everybody’s feet wet,” he said. “It’d be awesome if everybody could have had a great debut. It hadn’t happened. And obviously, our offense is not clicking all cylinders.”
Michael Toglia and John Cresto both homered for the second night in a row for Spokane.
“(Cresto) ended up being the big hitter of the game for us with the two-run homer and the two-out base hit, so I mean that was great to see,” Little said. “And keeps getting better and better.”
The Indians jumped on Emeralds starter Kai-Wei Teng in the first. With one down and two on, Brenton Doyle drove a ball to the wall in right-center that went for an RBI double, then Toglia bounced out to second to bring in a second run.
Eugene made those back up with two down in the fourth. Sean Roby crushed one to straight center that easily cleared the 395-foot sign for a two-run homer.
Toglia answered that shot with one of his own, a laser to right, and a 3-2 lead after four.
McMahon was lifted after five innings and 67 pitches.
“I was trying to mix everything up,” he said. “I have confidence in all three of my pitches. I think pitching inside to guys helped tonight – fastballs in, keeping them honest. That kind of opened up the rest of the plate, the rest of the at-bats.”
Eugene loaded the bases against Fennell in the sixth with one down on a pair of singles wrapped around an error by shortstop Jack Blomgren.
That brought up No. 7 hitter Tyler Fitzgerald, who ripped one into the left-field corner for a two-run double. Fennell walked Franklin Labour to load the bases again and a flyout to right by Ismael Mungia plated another run.
Patrick Bailey followed with a run-scoring single to make it 6-3 and manager Scott Little came out with the hook.
“It is the second game,” Little said. “We’ve had in those two games a few bad innings, and those innings have cost us.”
After Eugene scored two in the top of the seventh off Luke Chevalier, Cresto’s blast to left made it a three-run game again.
Creston drove in another run in the eighth with an RBI single after Toglia walked and stole second.
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