Three runs for the Braves ended up being more than enough tonight, as Charlie Morton’s seven strong innings and some solid bullpen work helped to preserve a 3-1 win for Atlanta over the Red Sox.
Tonight ended up being a really good night for Charlie Morton on the mound, but the signs were not encouraging in the early going. Indeed, each of the first three runners that Morton faced tonight all reached base and Boston’s first run of the game was scored when Morton hit Rafael Devers on his foot. It was looking like the start of another disastrous night for Morton until Christian Vazquez hit a liner directly into Dansby Swanson’s glove, who proceeded to flip the ball to Ozzie Albies to double off J.D. Martinez to end the inning. Morton was very fortunate to get out of that inning with just one run allowed, and he ended up getting on a roll from that point forward.
After escaping from a dangerous situation in the bottom of the second inning with another double play, the Braves found themselves with an opportunity of their own in the top of the third. The first five at-bats of that frame were all eventful — William Contreras led off with a walk, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit one near to the deepest part of the field for a fly out, Freddie Freeman singled, then Marcell Ozuna finished the job that Acuña started as he actually did succeed in hitting it to the deepest part of the ballpark for an RBI double.
Unfortunately, the fifth at-bat would be a bittersweet one for the Braves. Ozzie Albies hit a grounder into the shift in shallow right field and the Red Sox decided to trade an out for conceding a run. The runner thrown out was Ozuna heading to third and when Ozuna slid into the bag, his finger got all of Rafael Devers’ foot and his finger got mangled. Ozuna ended up leaving the game and hopefully the diagnosis is not as bad as what it looked like on the field, because it looked bad.
Lost in the drama was the fact that the Braves took the lead and that Charlie Morton was really starting to get into a groove after those first two shaky innings. As a matter of fact, from the last out of the third inning until the final out of his night in the seventh inning, Morton retired 13 consecutive Red Sox batters and struck out six of them, to boot. This now marks the second good start in a row for Charlie Morton — an elusive mark for him since arriving in Atlanta. Additionally, I’d say that this start topped the one that he had against the Mets last week. The Braves have really needed their starters to get on a good run like this, and having Charlie Morton get things rolling could be really big for them going forward.
Charlie Morton curve had Christian Vazquez baffled. pic.twitter.com/8KKdFaut4h— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) May 26, 2021
Before Morton left following the seventh inning, the Braves gave him an extra run of insurance to play with in the sixth inning. Pablo Sandoval picked up a one-out single to get things rolling for the Braves in this frame, which was also his third hit of the night in what was surely a feel-good moment for him after how his stint in Boston went. After a William Contreras walk moved the Panda to second base, Ronald Acuña Jr. eventually brought him home with a double into the left field corner to make it 3-1 Atlanta at that point. For Acuña, this was just another night of coming up big in big situations and for Pablo Sandoval, it was a night that he won’t forget for a while.
The bullpen portion of the game for the Braves was quite interesting, as Edgar Santana got the ball for the eighth inning. Thanks to some questionable umpiring that Santana took full advantage of, he was able to get out of the eighth with just a walk. The inning also included a really nifty fielding play on the part of William Contreras, who deftly fielded a bunt attempt from Marwin Gonzalez for the first out of the inning. Then Will Smith got the ball for the ninth and retired the side in order to bring the Braves to the .500 mark.
Holding this Red Sox lineup to just one run is no mean feat, but Charlie Morton, Edgar Santana, and Will Smith managed to do it — along with some good defense throughout the game as well. The Braves have now picked up four straight wins and five out of their last six and suddenly the team finds themselves in the midst of a pretty good run. Long may it continue!