Charlie Morton leaves NLDS Game 4 after 2 rounds

PHILADELPHIA — Much like the last time he made a high-stakes start in the playoffs, the biggest blow against the Braves’ Charlie Morton came via a comeback.

And Game 4 starter Charlie Morton, the winningest pitcher in Major League history in playoff playoff games, was knocked down and eventually knocked out on Saturday afternoon after pulling a line drive off his arm. pitcher in the deciding third inning of the Braves’ season-ending 8. -3 loss at Citizens Bank Park.

Just like that, the defending World Series champions – winners of 101 regular season games and NL East champions for the fifth straight season – were out.

“Losing stinks,” said Morton, who previously signed with Atlanta for 2023. “Especially when you get the chance to finally taste victory.”

That’s not how the Braves designed the series. Their starters ranked third out of 15 NL teams in innings pitched during the regular season (890 1/3) and fifth in the ERA (3.72), but their NLDS quartet combined to give up 14 runs ( 12 earned) on 17 hits in 13 2/3 innings over four games.

Add it up and, even with Wright’s crown jewel in a 3-0 victory in Game 2, Atlanta’s starters were 1-3 with a 7.90 ERA in the NLDS. Philadelphia took the lead in the first inning of Game 1, the third inning of Game 3, and the second inning of Game 4, and it never looked back on its way to the NL Championship Series.

We couldn’t help but wonder: Could this have been a different series with the Braves starters at 100%?

“I don’t think it’s fair to Philly. We don’t want to make excuses,” Wright said. “I think they played really well and they beat us. You never know what those guys are going through, too. You can play this game, but you don’t want to take the credit away from them.”

Morton’s Saturday start landed 354 days after throwing 16 pitches at a fractured right fibula in the third inning of Game 1 of last year’s World Series, when he retired all three Astros batters he had. faced following a ground throw by Yuli Gurriel on her shin. Saturday afternoon against the Phillies was a painful case of deja vu.

In the top of the second inning, Philadelphia third baseman Alec Bohm hit a 71.8 mph line drive that hit Morton’s right arm inches from the elbow. It changed the course of Morton’s last effort in a postseason playoff game. Prior to this time, his fastball ranged between 95.5 and 96.6 mph. After that time, 11 of his 19 pitches for the rest of the inning were curveballs, and the fastballs ranged between 93.7 and 95.3 mph.

The Phillies took advantage of that. Morton stayed in the game to knock out Bryson Stott before Jean Segura hit a curveball for a single and Brandon Marsh, ninth at bat, smashed another curveball for a three-run home run and a 3-0 lead.

Morton managed to finish the inning and took the mound to warm up for third, but he never threw a pitch. After several warm-up pitches, he was met on the mound by Braves manager Brian Snitker and an athletic trainer before making the slow walk to the dugout.

“Once I saw him come out, I knew,” Morton said.

Snitker said: “They x-rayed him. There was nothing in the seal. I think, ‘If it’s not going well, then I think we’re in a deeper hole.’ You know what, I watched the warm-up shots and I didn’t like it — I just told him my eye exam wasn’t really good there. He would have continued. I just thought we were at a point where we didn’t need to try.

Morton conceded after the game that his elbow started to tighten between sets. But still, he reluctantly walked out of the game. Collin McHugh took over, had all the time he needed to warm up and quickly gave up an inside-the-park home run to JT Realmuto, which extended Philadelphia’s lead to 4- 1.

“There’s no one who wanted to be out there more than Charlie,” McHugh said. “The decision was sort of taken away from him.”

“That’s where you have to give Snit a lot of credit,” Wright said. “I think he looked after Charlie and wanted to protect him, but at the same time he didn’t really want to risk anything. It helps when you have a good bullpen to make that decision, but as a competitor , man, it sucks that it ends like this.

First baseman Matt Olson said: “I think [Morton] was trying not to act like it hurt him, but I think everyone could kind of see that he wasn’t necessarily the same with that. It’s a really unfortunate thing that happened. Charlie cares a lot and we love playing behind him. We had to pivot and try to win another way.

Morton retired to the clubhouse before returning to the dugout for moral support as the Braves tried to get back into the game. The Phillies didn’t let him.

“I thought the guys were good. I thought we were in the right place. I thought the team had energy,” Morton said. “But at the same time, I was mentally in a weird situation, because I’m coming out of the game. I felt like I didn’t do my job, and that’s a difficult feeling, because this game meant a lot to me. me and this team means a lot to me.

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