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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Braves roll past Astros in Game 1

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HOUSTON — Whether they wanted to or not, the Braves stayed on script on Tuesday night.

Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall homered and the Braves won Game 1 of the World Series with a 6-2 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park despite the loss of Charlie Morton, who was knocked out with a broken leg — but not before the right-hander got five more outs after suffering the injury.

Atlanta won just 88 games in the regular season, didn’t go over .500 until Aug. 6 and overcame season-ending injuries to Ronald Acuña, Jr. (ACL) and Mike Soroka (Achilles) — as well as the absence of Marcell Ozuna, who was placed on administrative leave after he was arrested for the alleged assault of his wife.

Now the Braves are three victories from their first title since 1999 after piecing together another win.

Soler drilled a leadoff homer to left on a 2-0 pitch off Framber Valdez. It was the first time in World Series history the first batter in the first inning of the first game hit a home run. And it came in Soler’s first start since testing positive for COVID-19 before Game 4 of the NLDS.

Adam Duvall celebrates after belting a two-run homer in the third inning of the Braves' 6-2 win over the Astros.
Adam Duvall celebrates after belting a two-run homer in the third inning of the Braves’ 6-2 win over the Astros.

Valdez’s night only got worse from there.

After a nice play by Jose Altuve to get Freddie Freeman for the first out, Ozzie Albies reached on a slow grounder to Valdez and stole second. Valdez then fell behind Austin Riley, 3-0 and Riley followed with an RBI double to left-center to make it 2-0.

The Astros threatened in the bottom of the inning against Morton, with a one-out single by Michael Brantley and two-out walks to Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa to load the bases for Kyle Tucker.

Tucker grounded one into short right, where Albies made a fine play to his left and a strong throw to first for the final out to keep it a two-run game.

Travis d’Arnaud and Joc Pederson singled to open the second off Valdez and Dansby Swanson hit a fly ball to the track in center to move up both runners.

Soler drove in his second run of the game with a grounder to short to make it 3-0, but Pederson was thrown out at third.

The Braves’ night took a turn when Morton took a hard comebacker off his right ankle from Yuli Gurriel to lead off the bottom of the second — the play that eventually knocked him out of the game. First though, he struck out Chas McCormick and got Martin Maldonado to line to first.

Meanwhile, Atlanta kept pounding Valdez. Eddie Rosario started the third with a single and Duvall ending the lefty’s night with a two-run homer that gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead.

Houston brought in Yimi Garcia, who retired the next three batters.

Morton was finally forced from the game with one out in the bottom of the third. He stumbled on his final pitch of the night, which was good enough to strike out Altuve looking.

A limping Morton was diagnosed with a fractured right fibula — ending his World Series.

A.J. Minter entered and immediately allowed a double to Brantley, but retired Alex Bregman and Alvarez to end the inning. The left-hander went on to throw a career-high 43 pitches over 2 ²/₃ innings.

Astros' Yuli Gurriel reacts dejectedly after getting thrown out at second going for a double in the eighth inning.
Astros’ Yuli Gurriel reacts dejectedly after getting thrown out at second going for a double in the eighth inning.
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Jake Odorizzi took over for the Astros to start the fourth.

The Astros began to come back in the fourth. Tucker doubled off Minter with one out and moved to third on a single by Gurriel. With runners on the corners, McCormick hit a grounder to short that could have resulted in an inning-ending double play. Instead, Swanson booted it. Tucker scored and Gurriel got to third as McCormick reached safely.

With runners on the corners, Minter whiffed Maldonado and got Altuve on a pop up, which he caught himself.

Down 6-1 in the eighth, the Astros scored a run and Gurriel belted a two-out shot high off the wall in left-center, but was thrown out at second by Rosario.

Atlanta’s bullpen went on to allow just a pair of runs in 6 ²/₃ innings, as the Braves improved to 20-5 since Sept. 19.


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