Taking a 1-0 lead in the 2021 World Series came at a heavy cost for the Atlanta Braves. Starting pitcher Charlie Morton suffered a fractured fibula in Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros, ending the veteran’s postseason.

Morton exited Game 1 in Houston with one out in the third inning as the Braves held a commanding 5-0 lead. The right-hander took a ground ball off his leg one inning earlier that caused the break, but not before Morton retired three more batters.

“He was doing exactly what we hired him to do,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Morton, who apologized to his teammates for leaving Game 1 with an injury. “Bring credibility. He did it all year. He did it tonight. And I hate it for him. He really is the kind of guy that would break his leg and say he’s sorry.”

 

 

The Braves stole home-field advantage from the Astros with the win and have gone from slight underdogs to betting favorites in this year’s Fall Classic. Losing Morton for the rest of the series, however, is a major blow to Atlanta. 

Morton has been one of MLB’s top postseason pitchers in recent years. As a member of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 ALCS, Morton became the first-ever pitcher to record a win in four winner-take-all games. Morton was the winning pitcher for the Astros in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.

In 16.2 playoff innings with Atlanta, Morton has 22 strikeouts and a 3.24 ERA. Morton last surrendered more than three runs in an outing on Aug. 24.

Atlanta’s once clear advantage over Houston had been their starting rotation. Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. isn’t available in the World Series because of an injury. Game 1 starter Framber Valdez had a poor outing for the third time in four 2021 playoff starts. Starters Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy haven’t been reliable this postseason.

In the regular season, Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson made 85 total starts for a 37-18 record and a 3.22 ERA. The trio entered the World Series with a combined 3.27 playoff ERA. 

Jesse Chavez is the only other Atlanta pitcher who’s made a start this postseason. He hasn’t thrown more than one inning in any of his five playoff appearances.

Fried gets the start for Atlanta against Urquidy in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Charlie Morton Atlanta Braves Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves is taken out of the game against the Houston Astros during the third inning in Game One of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images