Atlanta wasted no time as Jorge Soler opened the scoring with a home run on the first swing of the game.
It was the first ever lead-off home run in Game 1 of a World Series and an early statement from the underdog Braves. They added on again in the first after a single and stolen base by Ozzie Albies, who then scored on a double by Austin Riley. Suddenly the Braves were up 2-0 before you could even say World Series.
The Braves scored a run in the second before putting the nail in the coffin in the third inning when Adam Duvall launched a rocket into the Crawford Boxes to make it 5-0.
Duvall and Soler were both acquired at the trade deadline to help replace Ronald Acuña Jr. after he tore his ACL. They, along with Joc Pederson and Eddie Rosario, have been the catalysts of the Atlanta offense all October and tonight was no different.
The Astros scored in the fourth and the eighth, but never put a real scare into the Braves.
The Astros had one real threat to get back in the game which came in the fourth inning.
They got runners on the corners after a double by Kyle Tucker and single by Yuli Gurriel with one out. It felt like the bats were finally waking up after Morton was removed, and it was a chance to really put a strain on the bullpen.
Houston caught a break on the next play as Dansby Swanson booted an easy ground ball that let a run score. It would have been a routine 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and instead it got the Astros on the board. It felt like just what Houston needed to start a big rally.
However, Minter battled back and got Martin Maldonado to strike out and José Altuve to pop out to keep the score at 5-1. Houston barely threatened again and the Braves coasted to victory from there.
Morton Battles As Season Ends
Charlie Morton looked great through 2 1/3 in Game 1 before suddenly being removed with an injury. Earlier in the game Morton had taken a ball off his ankle on a play that seemed pretty inconsequential.
What looked like a bruised ankle is actually much worse for Morton. In the middle of the fourth inning, the Braves announced that the 38-year-old had suffered a fractured fibula that will end his season.
Despite the injury, Morton showed incredible toughness after the play. He stayed in and recorded two strikeouts and a line out. His final out was this nasty strikeout of Altuve and you can almost see his leg give out on the finish.
AJ Minter carried the load following Morton’s quick exit and got the Braves through five. It was a massive effort to save the Braves from a bullpen nightmare in Game 1 of the series.
Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith also contributed to the much-needed shutdown performance from the bullpen.
The loss of Morton is critical for the Braves as they will be without their best starter the rest of the series. He could have gone three times in the series if needed, so they will have to find a way to replace those innings. He has also been the best starter on a staff that desperately needs one.
Earlier today, I wrote that if the Braves have to use a lot of their bullpen it could get ugly. Losing Morton means they will have to rely heavily on that bullpen to come through. They did a good job tonight, but there is still a long way to go.
Play Of The Game
There was some really good defense on both sides tonight, but one play made me change my pick mid-game.
The Astros already had a run in in the eighth when Yuli Gurriel lined a double to left-center. He was inches from a home run, but Gurriel pushed for two to try and keep the spark going.
Instead, Eddie Rosario–one of the four outfield replacements for Ronald Acuña Jr.–fired a strike to rob him of two bases. Rosario had a quiet night at the plate, but the Postseason star still had an impact with this insane throw.
Gurriel’s slide did not necessarily help his chances.
Game 2 is tomorrow night. Max Fried will be on the mound for Atlanta and José Urquidy gets the ball for Houston.