If there were any ill effects from the broken leg Charlie Morton suffered in Game 1 of the last year’s World Sereis, the Rays couldn’t seem to find them. Morton made his spring debut Sunday afternoon, throwing 4 2/3 scoreless (and hitless) innings while striking out five and walking one against his former team who beat the Braves 4-1.
152 days after World Series Game 1, Charlie Morton is back on the mound striking out opposing hitters. pic.twitter.com/w5ee8Ev24a— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) March 27, 2022
Morton came right out of the gates sharp facing three Tampa Bay regulars in Brandon Lowe, Mike Zunino, and Austin Meadows and went ground out, strikeout, fly out in the first inning. Interestingly enough, the fly out went to right field where catcher Williams Contreras was camped out for the day, as the Braves look to expand his defensive versatility.
Only bit of trouble Morton had on the day was in the second inning, with one out, he hit Rays’ DH Josh Lowe with a pitch, who then immediately stole second base. But Morton showed his curveball was in mid-season form, striking out Ryon Healy and getting Vidal Brujan on a fly out.
Charlie Morton, Filthy Curveball. pic.twitter.com/zTcsO5ZmLv— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 27, 2022
Morton only allowed one baserunner the rest of the way, a third inning walk that was immediately erased on a double play, and was pulled by manger Brian Snitker after getting the first two batters of the fifth innings on a strikeout and ground out. Morton finished with 4 2/3 innings pitched, five strikeouts, one walk, one HBP and 63 pitches on the afternoon.
Atlanta has to be thrilled with the both the length and quality of Morton’s first start of the spring, and he appears ready to start the season healthy and at the top of the rotation.
Dylan Lee followed Morton, pitching 1 1/3 innings, with one strikeout, one bloop hit, and two ground outs in his five batters faced.
The game got away from the Braves in the eighth when Trey Riley gave up four runs on a single, a double, a walk, and a HR, while retiring just two hitters. AJ Smith-Shawver and Michael Tonkin also pitched for Atlanta.
Offensively, there obviously wasn’t much to talk about considering Atlanta scored just one run. Atlanta ran out a lineup of pretty much all back-ups and bench players, though they did have Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate for Morton’s start. Heredia, Demeritte, and Arcia all went 1-for-3 with a single and d’Arnaud finished 1-for-2 with a single. Atlanta scored their one run in the eighth inning when Stephen Paolini was hit by a pitch, stole second, and then scored on a Logan Brown single.
The Braves fall to 5-2, while the Rays move to 2-6 in the super important Spring Training standings.