HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton's season ended in the third inning of the 2021 World Series.
X-rays revealed that Morton, the Atlanta Braves' veteran starting pitcher, suffered a fractured right fibula early in Game 1 on Tuesday night, seemingly after getting hit by a 102.4 mph comebacker off the bat of Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel to begin the bottom of the second.
Morton, 37, retired the next two batters, then came back to strike out Jose Altuve to begin the bottom of the third before exiting. Morton noticeably grimaced while delivering the last pitch to Altuve -- a sweeping curveball dotted at the bottom of the strike zone -- and promptly hobbled out of the game after getting checked on by an athletic trainer.
Morton's injury prompted Braves manager Brian Snitker to turn to late-game reliever A.J. Minter a lot earlier than he would have anticipated and is a serious blow for his team, which entered the World Series with a three-man rotation that also included Max Fried and Ian Anderson. The Braves were already planning a bullpen game in Game 4 and will need another one in Game 5 unless Fried, Wednesday's Game 2 starter, comes back on short rest.
Morton, signed through at least the 2022 season, went 14-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 185⅔ innings during the 2021 regular season. He was appearing in his third World Series -- for his third different team -- in a five-year span. The Braves said he will be ready for spring training.
Atlanta will be able to replace him on the roster before Wednesday's Game 2.