Atlanta’s Charlie Morton breaks his leg and does not return to the World Series

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HOUSTON – At a time when old-fashioned aces have become a rarity, Atlanta has lost one of the game’s best off-season performers in the rest of the World Series.

Charlie Morton, Atlanta’s veteran right-handed starter, got one broken right fibula after he was hit on the leg by a sharply hit ball from Yuli Gurriel’s bat in the second half of the Atlanta 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.

X-rays taken at the stadium confirmed the breakup, and Morton was ruled out for the rest of the series. Atlanta said Morton, 37, would be available for next spring training but would not be able to help the team win the 2021 World Series.

“For us to lose him in Game 1, it’s a dagger,” said Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud, “but he will still be there with us, cheering on us and still trying to teach us all he has. learned on his way. and his career. “

After the ball hit Morton, he ran to cover first base without a noticeable limp and remained in the game. He continued to knock out Chas McCormick and then induced a line-drive out of Martín Maldonado to end the inning.

Between rounds, Morton received some medical attention, and Atlanta manager Brian Snitker indicated that the pitcher had an initial x-ray that was negative. Morton then threw a ball against a wall in the tunnel to the grave, Snitker said, proclaiming himself ready to return to the game. He said it hurt more to run than to throw.

“That x-ray when he went out again showed nothing,” Snitker said, adding, “Well, he got one after he came out of the game and felt hurt.”

In the third, Morton knocked Jose Altuve out, but landed awkwardly after throwing the final blow into the bat and reaching down to the spot where he had been hit by Gurriel’s liner.

Moments later, Morton hopped off the field and ended his season 16 lanes after the ball hit him. He was replaced by AJ Minter, who won the victory in relief.

“He hit a guy out on a broken leg,” Minter said. “It’s pretty remarkable.”

Snitker suggested that the break might not have developed before Morton went back to third inning.

“I’m not a doctor and all that, but I do not know if it was broken when he did,” the manager said, referring to outs recorded in the second half. “I mean, it was stressful, but he felt ok.”

Atlanta is allowed to replace Morton on the World Series list with another pitcher, but it has lost one of the pillars of its pitching staff and someone with remarkable success against the Astros.

The normally reliable Morton went 14-6 with a 3.34 earned run average in the regular season for Atlanta, with a major league-high 33 starts. In 14 major league seasons, including two with the Astros, Morton has established himself as a clutch postseason pitcher and has done particularly well against his former team.

Before Tuesday’s game, Morton had a record of 3-0 in the post-season against the Astros, with a microscopic ERA of 0.57. Two of those victories came in 2020 when he pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series.

This year, he started games 1 and 4 in a division series against Milwaukee and game 3 in the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tuesday was his 16th off-season start.

Morton has also had a strong influence on his teammates, and will most likely continue to provide support and advice to his teammates for the rest of the series. Max Fried, Atlanta’s Game 2 starter, called Morton a calming influence during a press conference Tuesday before Game 1.

“Especially when you go into really emotional games, especially when it comes to playoff games,” Fried said, “being able to look at him in those circumstances is really, really helpful.”

Morton struck out for Houston in 2017 and 2018 and won the 7th game of the 2017 World Series with four excellent innings in relief. He left a strong impression as a great teammate.

“The best you can ever get,” Altuve, Houston’s second baseman, said before the series began. “He’s so good. He’s amazing. I only have good things to say about him.”

Morton’s last pitching line of the 2021 season was two and a third innings, allowing a hit and no runs. He went two and knocked out three, but what will never appear in the box is whether he noted his last three outs on a broken leg.

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