2021 World Series: Braves overcome loss of Morton, cruise past Astros in Game 1
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves got home runs from Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall as they defeated the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 1 of the 2021 World Series at Minute Maid Park.

Atlanta lost starter Charlie Morton to a fractured right fibula suffered on a comebacker in the second inning. He will miss the rest of the series, but is expected to be back for Spring Training next year.

"We've been through this many times this year", said Braves manager Brian Snitker. "Losing key components to our club. We're going to continue.

"It's not going to be an excuse or anything else. We're going to go out and continue to try and win games."

A.J. Minter took the win, throwing a career-high 43 pitches in relief of Morton and Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith relieved Minter to finish out the game.

Houston starter Framber Valdez was knocked out in the third inning after allowing five runs, including both homers and suffered the loss. 

"Sometimes you get beat, and sometimes you give them the game", stated Astros skipper Dusty Baker. "We didn't give them anything tonight. We just got beat tonight."

Story of the game

The Astros loaded the bases against Morton with two out in the first, but he got Kyle Tucker to ground out to end the inning.

Yuli Gurriel's second-inning comebacker struck Morton in the right shin, yet he somehow managed to still get the last two outs of the second inning and the first out of the third, recording two strikeouts and throwing his last fastball at 95.9 mph.

Minter was amazed at what Morton did. "He struck out a guy on a broken leg. 

Soler led off the game with a shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field, the first time a leadoff man has homered in Game 1 of a Fall Classic and after Ozzie Albies' infield single, Austin Riley made it 2-0 with an RBI double.

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With runners on second and third in the second, Soler picked up his second RBI of the night on fielder's choice, Joc Pederson being thrown out at third and after another infield single by Albies, Valdez struck out Riley to escape further trouble.

The Houston lefty was knocked out after a single by Eddie Rosario and a two-run blast by Duvall stretched the Atlanta advantage to 5-0. Yimi Garcia relieved Valdez as the Braves became the first team to score in the first three innings in Game 1 of any World Series.

"It was just the emotion of the situation, being the starter for Game 1 of the World Series, being the starter for the Astros in the World Series", Valdez said through an interpreter. "I think it was that more than anything else. 

"It was maybe trying to do a bit too much, trying to throw a bit too hard."

The Houston runs came on a fielder's choice by Chas McCormick in the fifth off of Minter and after Freddie Freeman made it 6-1 with a sacrifice fly that plated Dansby Swanson, Carlos Correa's groundout scored Yordan Alvarez.

Game 2 look-ahead

The Astros will attempt to even the series when they send Jose Urquidy to the mound. The right-hander has made one appearance in this year's postseason, getting shelled for five runs in 1 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the ALCS against Boston.

Max Fried will look to put Atlanta ahead 2-0 when he toes the rubber on Wednesday night. The lefty is 1-1 over 16 2/3 innings in three starts in the 2021 playoffs.

First pitch is at 8:09pm Eastern time. Coverage is on FOX with Joe Buck as the play-by-play man, John Smoltz handling analyst duties and Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal as the on-field reporters.

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