But the Atlanta Braves starter saw his night end at just 44 pitches after an awkward follow through on a pitch in the bottom of the third inning. He left the game with an ankle injury with the Braves holding a 5-0 lead.
Morton nearly fell to the mound after striking out Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve with a curveball.
It was his last pitch of the night. He left the game after a short meeting on the mound with one out in the inning.
Morton hit by comebacker in 2nd inning
Morton appeared to initially suffer the injury when a comebacker on a Yuli Gurriel groundball hit his right ankle the previous inning.
This was the Gurriel comebacker that got Morton’s shin in the second inning. My guess is he had to exit because the area swelled over the past inning. pic.twitter.com/NuV4Zm50Yh
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 27, 2021
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that his ankle subsequently swelled up, and the pain was too intense for Morton to continue. Morton finished his night with three strikeouts and two walks in 2.1 innings pitched. Braves batters tallied two home runs en route to the 5-0 lead before Morton was forced to exit the game.
Tough blow for Braves
Morton’s prognosis for the rest of the series wasn’t immediately clear. Any missed time by Morton would be a significant blow to Atlanta.
Morton, 37, led the Braves with 185.2 innings pitched across 33 starts during the regular season. The two-time All-Star tallied a 3.34 ERA, 1.045 WHIP and a 14-6 record in the regular season while recording a team-high 216 strikeouts alongside 58 walks.
Regardless of his status moving forward, his early exit puts an unexpected strain on the Braves bullpen at the start of the series.