Charlie Morton spun a curveball past Jose Altuve for a called third strike, his 16th pitch after taking a 102mph comebacker off his right leg. Morton stumbled and started to fall. Turns out the leg was broken. Morton's right fibula was fractured by Yuli Gurriel's one-hop screamer leading off the second inning of Tuesday night's World Series opener, a ball hit so hard it ricocheted to first baseman Freddie Freeman for an out. By the time Morton faced Altuve leading off the third with a 5-0 lead, the leg had started to swell. Four relievers combined to pitch 6 2/3 innings and finish a 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros, reports the AP. But Morton's World Series was over soon after it started.
After Gurriel, Morton struck out Chas McCormick on four pitches, then retired Martin Maldonado on a liner to first base. "When the inning was over, we meet and talk about what's going on," catcher Travis d'Arnaud recalled. "He said, 'Oh, that one got me good.' He was kind of walking a little funny. I didn't think it was broken." Braves manager Brian Snitker said an initial X-ray after the second failed to show a break. Morton went back out for the third. Still reaching up to 95.9mph, he struck out Altuve. The 37-year-old right-hander braced himself with both arms after the pitch and grimaced as he popped back up, then rubbed at his right ankle.
"To go out there and strike out the next guy with a broken leg, it blows my mind," d'Arnaud said. Head athletic trainer George Poulis and manager Snitker came to the mound, and Morton walked back to the dugout, favoring a leg. By the fifth inning, the Braves said Morton's next mound appearance was expected to be during spring training. CNN reports Game 2 is Wednesday night at 8:09pm ET in Houston.
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