Charlie Morton’s battled a fair bit of adversity so far this season. He’s been doomed by big innings. He had that one horrendous start where he didn’t make it past the first. His HR/FB is elevated. But, tonight, he was just plain bad, and the team couldn’t bail him out. As a result, the Braves lost 4-3, their third straight defeat.
The Braves got on the board quickly, as Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the game with a walk, stole second (initially called out, overturned on replay review), moved to third on a groundout, and came around to score on an Ozzie Albies single to right. But, Morton quickly gave that run right back, as a leadoff single, a four-pitch one-out walk, and a weak dribbler crosswise to the shift loaded the bases. Adam Duvall followed with a routine sacrifice fly to right, tying the game. Morton struck Isan Diaz to end the inning.
After Sandy Alcantara had a 1-2-3 frame in the second, Morton had a bizarre slip-up by walking him on five pitches with two out and none on. He got out of the inning thanks to a hard lineout to left, but walking the pitcher... yeah. The Braves grabbed a second lead off Alcantara in the third, with Albies again scoring Acuña, with the buddies both doubling in the inning. The Braves had a chance to blow it open after Alcantara walked Riley, but Dansby Swanson flew out weakly. Morton had a quiet third, but then melted down completely in the fourth.
His inning started with a first-pitch groundout, but then continued with a walk to light-hitting Diaz. Morton got ahead of Jorge Alfaro 0-2, but then plunked him on the elbow. Jon Berti then followed by lifting a Morton curveball over short, tying the game. Alcantara then tried to bunt the runners over, but Morton overthrew a first-pitch fastball, obviating any need for a bunt. Thankfully, Morton didn’t walk Alcantara again, striking him out... but...
...he was left in to face Jazz Chisholm for a third time. And, well, you know how this goes. Chisholm connected on an 0-1 fastball on the outer third and hit it hard but on the ground. It rolled to Riley’s left, scoring both runners, and well, you’ve seen this before. I’ve seen this before. I’ve written about it before. Morton issued another walk and got out of the inning, but the Braves wouldn’t surmount this deficit.
Alcantara threw two more scoreless innings, allowing a hit but nothing else in each. Swanson nearly took him deep in the sixth, but it was just a double, and nothing came of it. Sean Newcomb and Shane Greene kept Miami off the board in the meanwhile, and the Braves crept a run closer in the seventh off Richard Bleier. Ehire Adrianza reached on a weak infield roller and scored on Acuña’s double down the left-field line. But, Freeman rolled out to first, and now facing Anthony Bass, Albies couldn’t score Acuña a third time.
Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek kept Miami off the board in the late innings, but it didn’t matter. In the eighth, Dylan Floro yielded a high chopper off the plate to Swanson that became a single, and Abraham Almonte walked. But, a would-be flare single by William Contreras was caught in shallow left, and Ender Inciarte was left to hit for himself, which resulted in an 0-2 flyout to right.
The ninth also offered false hope, as Pablo Sandoval led off the inning with a single off Yimi Garcia. But, Garcia blew Acuña away on three straight fastballs. Freeman hit a hard 50-50 fly to right, but it was caught. (Duh, Freeman’s 2021 continues.) Albies walked to extend the game, but Riley swung through a 1-1 fastball in the upper part of the zone, and then a 1-2 fastball in a similar place to end the game.
The Braves are now 29-32, and are five games back in the division after the Mets’ win. The playoff odds will certainly hit a new low for the 2021 season after tonight. So it goes.