At first glance, Charlie Morton’s stats from Game 1 of the World Series may not seem too impressive. The Braves starter didn’t allow a run in Atlanta’s 6-2 win over the Astros, but he only threw 44 shots in 2 1/3 innings during the game.
However, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Morton was injured in the second inning of that game after Yuli Gurriel hit a 102 mph ground ball on his right leg.
Despite that, Morton stayed in the game to face the Astros’ next three hitters. He threw 16 shots before leaving the game. The Braves later confirmed that Morton was dealing with a broken fibula, although it is not clear whether he suffered the break on play against Gurriel or later on another pitch.
Either way, Morton played through some pain. Still, he couldn’t help but apologize after being knocked out of the game – and the rest of the series – because of the injury.
“And if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about Charlie Morton,” Morton’s teammate Freddie Freeman told ESPN, “I don’t know what does.”
How was Morton able to stay in the game? Here’s a look at his performance against the three hitters he faced before a broken leg knocked him out.
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Charlie Morton eliminates Chas McCormick
Morton showed no problem against the first hitter he faced as a result of his injury. Astros rookie Chas McCormick stepped in and Morton was able to get him out pretty quickly.
McCormick fouled Morton’s first pitch and took a ball before Morton dropped a few perfectly pitched curved balls to generate McCormick’s wobbles and misses. The throws were moving at 81 and 82 mph respectively and were located in the lower third of the strike zone.
Both shots were strikes and McCormick had to hit them. He couldn’t get the cannon to the ball, swinging twice on the field in late dive to complete a strikeout in four.
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Charlie Morton has Martin Maldonado lined up
Next up for Morton was a battle with wide receiver Martin Maldonado, who entered the plate appearance with a .069 batting average. Morton barely missed the strike zone with his first two pitches – a slightly high and outside fastball and a slightly low change – before coming back in the count.
Morton threw Maldonado four straight strikes and threw the kitchen sink at him. It spawned a foul ball on a 94mph lead, swayed Maldonado and missed a similar change at 85mph and spawned another foul ball on a 94mph four-seam fastball.
The final throw of the at-bat was a sinker on the outside of the plate. It arrived at 95 mph, marking the fastest throw Morton threw after breaking his leg. Maldonado made contact with him and hit a hard drive all the way to Gold Glove first baseman Freddie Freeman. This ended the second round.
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Charlie Morton eliminates Jose Altuve before going out
Morton limped slightly in the canoe between the heats, according to USA TODAY, and told catcher Travis d’Arnaud, “That one made me feel good.” Despite this, he returned to the game for the start of the third inning to face his last hitter: José Altuve.
“It’s amazing that he even likes to think about going there,” said d’Arnaud. “I bet you it was so AJ [Minter] might have more time to prepare. He sacrificed himself. “
Morton largely kept his hard stuff away from Altuve on the play. The three locations that reached 94 mph were on the outer portion of the plate. Two were balloons while another was fouled by Altuve.
However, Morton’s off-speed stuff came on the lower inner part of the plate. This is normally one of Altuve’s strong points, but the change in pitch speed has thrown him off balance. He left the first pitch for a strike and fouled the third pitch.
Altuve’s at-batting resulted in a strikeout. He was caught watching an obnoxious curve from Morton who was only going at 80mph and just burned the bottom of the strike zone. Altuve just couldn’t pull the trigger.
Morton would leave the game soon after after a visit from the coach. He totaled 11 strikes on 16 pitches after the first leg shot and struck out two batters, including one of baseball’s top hitters.
And his daring performance impressed his teammates.
“Coming out and hitting the next guy on a broken leg amazes me,” Arnaud said.