Braves: Charlie Morton continues to silence critics

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The Braved decided to get ahead of the curve last year, inking Charlie Morton to a one-year, $20 million contract extension before the season even ended. The move received mixed reactions. Most didn’t like spending that much money on a starting pitcher coming off his worst statistical season since 2015, especially one that was set to turn 39-years-old. But some did see the Braves vision, knowing how expensive starting pitching can be in free agency, and he’s proven to be a bargain through the first seven weeks of the season.

The Braves desperately needed Morton to turn in a vintage performance in Texas against the Rangers following four straight losses, and he delivered in a big way. Morton did give up seven hits, but they were scattered throughout 6.2 innings, and any time he needed to make a pitch, he turned to his patented Uncle Charlie, leading to a season-high six strikeouts.

The Rangers never had a chance. Morton had them looking silly more times than I could count, and it helped that the Braves offense decided to wake up after a dormant series in Toronto.

Kevin Pillar got the party started in the second with a two-run homer, which was a theme in this game. A few batters later, Ronald Acuña doubled the Braves lead with a two-run homer of his own.

The Braves would break the game open in the fifth, with Matt Olson and Ozzie Albies each driving in a run with a double. Orlando Arcia then added two more runs to the total with a homer in the 6th, which was followed up in the seventh with another two-run shot off the bat of Austin Riley. Finally, Marcell Ozuna joined the party in the ninth with the Braves fifth two-run homer of the game.

It was ugly for the Rangers, but it was the kind of performance that was desperately needed by the Braves, who seemed to find themselves in a funk over the last five days.

The offense was refreshing, but nothing was more important in this game than Charlie Morton’s gem on the mound. He’s back to looking like a frontline starter again, owning a 2.85 ERA on the season. The importance of that cannot be understated given the injuries to Max Fried and Kyle Wright, who will both be sidelined at least a couple of months. Righting the ship without them will be difficult, but it should be doable if Strider and Morton can keep pitching like this every five days.

Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire

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