The Atlanta Braves started quickly and jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series. However, it came at a cost, as Charlie Morton was lost to injury for the remainder of the championship series.
The offense got started quickly against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler drilled the third pitch he saw for a leadoff home run into the Crawford Boxes in left. Soler made history, becoming the first player ever to homer in the first plate appearance in the World Series.
After a groundout by Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies reached on an infield single via tapper down the third base line. He stole second and then came around to score on a double off the bat of Austin Riley to make it 2-0.
Morton worked himself into a jam in the first. He got his evening started with a strikeout of Jose Altuve, but then allowed a first-pitch single to Michael Brantley. Alex Bregman grounded out to Freeman for the second out. Morton pitched around Yordan Alvarez to put runners at first and second. He then jumped ahead of Carlos Correa 0-2 but lost him to load the bases. Kyle Tucker followed with a sharp grounder into the hole on the right side that Albies flagged down and threw on to first in time for the final out of the inning.
Atlanta continued to make Valdez work in the second. Travis d’Arnaud and Joc Pederson got things started with back-to-back singles. Dansby Swanson then drove a fly ball deep to center that Chas McCormick caught at the wall for the first out instead of a three-run homer. Both runners moved up 90 feet on the play. Soler then grounded to Correa at short, who threw to third to retire Pederson. d’Arnaud scored on the play to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Braves continued to add on in the third. Eddie Rosario singled to begin the inning and then came around to score as Adam Duvall hammered a line drive homer to left to make it 5-0.
That would be all for Valdez, who exited after allowing eight hits and five runs in just two-plus innings of work. The Astros replaced Valdez with Yimi Garcia, who retired the next three hitters in order.
Morton sat down the side in order in the second but was struck just above the ankle on a comebacker off the bat of Yuli Gurriel. He finished the inning and retired the side in order. He came back out for the third and struck out Altuve looking to begin the inning, but that would be the final pitch he threw as he exited with a lower leg injury.
Charlie Morton, Filthy 80mph Curveball.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 27, 2021
[And he's hurt. ] pic.twitter.com/GXMb55OeEj
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Morton’s ankle swelled and that he was unable to continue. The Braves later announced that X-rays revealed a fractured fibula and that Morton will miss the remainder of the World Series.
Morton was replaced by A.J. Minter, who quickly allowed a double to Brantley. Minter got Bregman to ground out for the second out and then struck out Alvarez to end the threat.
Morton allowed just one hit and walked two over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He escaped the bases loaded jam in the first and retired the last five hitters he faced.
Jake Odorizzi held the Braves scoreless for the first time in the fourth. (The Braves also set a record for being the first team to start a World Series Game 1 with runs scored in three straight innings.) Minter stayed in and allowed a one-out double to Tucker. Gurriel followed with a single to put runners at first and third. Chas McCormick then hit a sharp grounder that could have been a double play, but ended up eating up Swanson instead. Tucker scored to make it 5-1 and Gurriel advanced all the way to third on the play as the ball bounced away. Minter then struck out Martin Maldonado for the second out and got Altuve to pop out to escape the jam. Minter stayed in for the fifth with the heart of the Astros’ lineup due up. He got Brantley to fly out deep to left for the first out and then struck out Bregman. Minter then got ahead of Alvarez 0-2 and then got him to fly out harmlessly to center for the final out. It was a gutsy performance for Minter who was pressed into early action following Morton’s injury. He allowed three hits and one run over 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three while throwing a career-high 43 pitches.
Odorizzi struck out five of the first seven Atlanta hitters he faced. He got Joc Pederson to fly out to begin the sixth but then allowed a single to Swanson. Dusty Baker then went to his bullpen and summoned Phil Maton, who struck out Soler but then allowed an infield single to Freeman. However, Albies grounded out sharply to third to strand two more runners.
Luke Jackson needed a good outing after struggling in his final two appearances in the NLCS. He allowed a one out single to Tucker but struck out McCormick to leave him stranded.
Luke Jackson, Filthy 88mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/76mrDXX212— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 27, 2021
The Braves threatened again in the seventh. Eddie Rosario doubled with one out to get things started. Maton then walked Duvall to put runners at first and second. Baker went to his pen again replacing Maton with Ryne Stanek who got d’Arnaud to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Jackson stayed in to start the seventh and retired Jason Castro on a ground out and then struck out Altuve. Snitker then turned to Tyler Matzek, who allowed a two-out single to Brantley but struck out Bregman looking to end the frame.
Atlanta tacked on an insurance run in the eighth. Swanson worked a one-out walk off of Ryne Stanek and then moved all the way to third as Soler reached on a swinging bunt. Baker went to lefty Brooks Raley to face Freeman, who hit a shallow fly ball to Tucker in right. Swanson tagged and scored thanks to a great slide to make it 6-1.
Alvarez led off the eighth against Matzek with a triple off the center field wall. Correa followed with a ground ball up the middle that Albies fielded and threw in time to first for the out. Alvarez scored on the play to cut the lead to 6-2. Matzek struck out Tucker for the second out and then gave up a deep drive to Gurriel that caromed off the wall in left. Rosario fielded it and threw a strike to second that was in time to nail Gurriel, turning a near-homer barreled ball into an inning-ending out.
Will Smith took over in the ninth and walked pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz to begin the inning. Castro grounded to Albies, who fired to second to cut down the lead runner for the first out. Altuve then grounded out to Swanson deep in the hole; Swanson also fired to second for the second out. Smith then got Brantley to ground out to second for the final out.
The Braves did most of their scoring early but a dominant pitching performance from the bullpen kept the Astros in check. Losing Morton is a huge blow, but Atlanta needed to take at least one of the two games in Houston. They were able to accomplish that and will have the opportunity to regroup and figure out how they will approach the remainder of the series.