Home News Charlie Morton strikes out seven in win over Red Sox

Charlie Morton strikes out seven in win over Red Sox

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ATLANTA — It’s daunting to think about possibly spending the next two months without both Max Fried and Kyle Wright. But it’s not like the Braves haven’t spent the past few seasons skillfully overcoming adversity.  

So maybe it shouldn’t have been surprising to see them roll to a 9-3 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Truist Park. The day began with the revelation that Fried was heading to the injured list with a strained left forearm. It ended with the Braves looking like a team capable of persevering yet again.  

“Ever since I’ve been here, this group has been able to rally around each other,” Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton said. “That’s under a lot of circumstances. Whether it’s consecutive losses, struggling to find momentum, injuries or personal issues, these guys are great. I think that’s why we’re such a good team. So I wouldn’t have expected it any other way.” 

Morton delivered six strong innings. Orlando Arcia looked more like a Hall of Fame shortstop than somebody playing just his second game in more than three weeks. And Matt Olson highlighted a four-run first inning with his 11th homer. It was almost like the Braves weren’t fazed by the enhanced challenge created by Fried’s injury.

The Braves won the 2021 World Series despite Ronald Acuña Jr. suffering a season-ending right knee injury two days before the All-Star break. They won a fifth straight NL East title last year despite entering June 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets.

Now they are staring at the likelihood of spending the next two months without Fried, who finished second in last year’s NL Cy Young Award balloting, and Wright, who was MLB’s only 20-game winner last year. But with Morton, the Braves have a veteran who can help guide the rotation through this rough stretch.

“We’ve been dealing with it, just like everybody else,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’re no different than any other team. It helps when Charlie goes out and throws six good innings like that.”

Morton limited the Red Sox to just two runs and completed at least six innings for the fourth time in his past five starts. Age hasn’t slowed the 39-year-old hurler, who has a 3.32 ERA through seven starts. But this was one of those nights he benefited from the comforts created by a quick-strike offense.

Acuña delivered a leadoff single and jogged home when Olson hit his MLB-leading fifth first-inning homer. Austin Riley followed with a walk and Sean Murphy was hit with a pitch. The resulting four-run first highlighted the fast-starting capabilities of the Braves, who lead the Majors with a 1.004 OPS in the opening frame.

“It’s really good when you put heat on the opposition and they have to come from behind, especially when you have a guy like Charlie or [Spencer] Strider or Bryce [Elder] on the mound,” Snitker said.

With Wright (right shoulder strain) and Fried both sidelined indefinitely, the rotation consists of Morton, Strider (who has the potential to be a Cy Young Award candidate) and Elder, who ranks third in the Majors with a 1.74 ERA. That’s the base for a potentially strong rotation. Jared Shuster, Dylan Dodd and Michael Soroka could be added to that group, and they would benefit from a suddenly healthy offense.

Arcia shocked many when he declared himself ready to return to the lineup on Sunday, just 24 days after his left wrist was fractured by a Hunter Greene fastball. He has played Gold Glove-caliber defense over the past two days, and he produced his third three-hit game while playing just his 15th game on Tuesday.

Murphy and Acuña became top early-season MVP candidates as the Braves began building the NL’s best record, despite spending portions of April without Fried, Wright, Harris, d’Arnaud, Arcia and closer Raisel Iglesias. 

Now they should get some assistance as the Braves attempt to persevere without Fried and Wright. It will be a challenge. But it’s not like this is new territory for this resilient team. 

“I’m impressed with the guys in here and their ability to treat each day like a new one and not let [the] good or bad of the day before affect the next day,” Olson said.

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