1. The Braves had endured six consecutive poor starts from their pitchers. They desperately needed a good one.
They got it from Morton.
Just not in the way they expected.
Morton issued a career-high seven walks. Seven!
“I stopped counting after three or four,” Morton said.
But he managed to hold the Mets scoreless over five innings. He allowed three hits and struck out four.
He hurled 105 pitches.
Only 52 were strikes.
“I just felt bad for the guys out there,” Morton said. “I feel bad for the position players. It’s like, come on dude, you’re a major-league pitcher. That was my challenge. I had no clue where the ball was going half of the time.”
But a zero is a zero is a zero.
Morton put multiple runners on base in each of his first four innings before tossing a clean fifth. He managed to escape every time.
Perhaps his experience helped.
At age 39, is he simply unfazed by everything he encounters on a mound?
“I wouldn’t say it doesn’t faze me. I just think it doesn’t beat me,” Morton said. “I don’t feel defeated, whereas I think earlier in my career, I felt like I just didn’t know what to do when it was like coming to the park and getting on the mound was just very challenging, because I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know what direction I was going. I was feeling like I had a bunch of puzzle pieces to different puzzles and just no clue where to turn.”
Now, he can navigate his way through anything.
On this night, he helped the Braves beat the Mets.
2. Morton walked off the mound with a runner on first base and no outs in the sixth. Pierce Johnson entered to preserve the lead – and an incredible statistic.
Morton is only the 11th starting pitcher in MLB history to throw exactly five scoreless innings while walking at least seven batters. And no Braves have ever done it.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Jack Flaherty – now with Baltimore – did it for the Cardinals in April. It’s been done only six times since 2000.
At one point, Morton asked Austin Riley a question.
“Legitimately, I was like, ‘Does your back hurt from standing like that for so long, and did your back get locked up?’” Morton said. “Because I know if I stand for a long time, my back starts to hurt.”
3. The Braves worked Mets starter Tylor Megill in the fourth inning. They eventually loaded the bases for Rosario, who has slumped recently.
Rosario entered Friday batting .182 since the All-Star break. But he’s a microwave – he can get hot quickly.
“I’ve felt that way my whole career,” Rosario said through interpreter Franco García. “Just full of highs of lows, and that’s the game. But it’s all about being able to refocus and trying to get hot.
And in this bases-loaded at-bat, which came in a scoreless game, he lined a two-run single to right-center field. An error by the center fielder allowed a third run to score.
In the sixth inning, Rosario doubled home a run. In the seventh, Riley homered – his second RBI of the night – to give the Braves a seven-run lead.
Before Friday, Rosario hadn’t driven in a run since July 29 – a span of 10 games. Since the break, he’d only collected an RBI in two of his 17 starts.
Perhaps Friday gets him going.
4. Ironically, the mark of a good reliever might be that you don’t hear much about him.
Such is the case with Johnson, who hadn’t experienced the success for which he hoped before the Braves traded for him.
In relief of Morton, Johnson kept the Mets off the board in the sixth.
He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 7 1/3 innings, with 11 strikeouts, since the Braves acquired him.
5. The Braves are 6-1 against New York this season. They’ve won 12 of the last 14 games against the Mets dating to last season, which ended with Atlanta sweeping the Mets in a series that essentially decided the National League East.
These teams have three games left this weekend.
Stat to know
8 and 7 - Morton was the eighth Braves pitcher ever to issue seven walks without allowing a run, and was the seventh pitcher – from any team – to accomplish the feat against the Mets.
“It’s just kind of a battle with yourself. In (the) zone, my stuff was playing okay. It was just, like, complete misses. That’s me fighting myself right there. I think after three or four, you just say, ‘That’s embarrassing, this is very embarrassing.’ But I still got the ball in my hand, (manager Brian Snitker) let me go back out there for the sixth. The little victories, the little things.” - Morton on the walks
The Mets and Braves will play a split doubleheader on Saturday, with games at 1:10 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. (The second is on FOX.) Allan Winans will start the first game for Atlanta, and Spencer Strider will pitch the second.