CHICAGO – Over the weekend, the Monday forecast for Chicago predicted rain beginning sometime around first pitch of the Braves’ series opener versus the White Sox.

As it turned out, the rain held off for a couple of hours and allowed the teams to play baseball, which let the Braves handle an inferior opponent as expected.

The Braves blasted the White Sox, 9-0, in a game that was called after eight innings because of rain.

Five observations on the win:

1. Charlie Morton can only remember a couple years when he left spring training and thought, “I’m good to go.” One that comes to mind is 2018 with the Astros. He was an All-Star that season, but it doesn’t always work like that.

“I’ve come out of springs where I threw the ball pretty well and I get early in the season and it’s like, holy cow, and barely get through April. And then I’ve come out of spring where I felt like I wasn’t doing very well in spring and then you kind of get into a little bit of a groove,” he said.

And this spring?

“I would say that this spring, it was like, I know I checked all the boxes,” Morton said. “So, we’ll see.”

Well, his regular-season debut was encouraging: Despite the chilly weather – it was 46 degrees at first pitch – Morton hurled 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out six batters and walked two. He allowed three hits.

How’s that for the first start of an age-40 season?

“It was great. It was perfect,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Exactly what we kind of wanted for him in that first one.”

Morton loaded the bases in the first inning but escaped. He gave up a leadoff double in the third and recorded three straight outs. Eventually, he retired the final 11 men he faced.

Morton said his four-seam fastball, which averaged 93.2 mph, played up (in other words, it looked like it was thrown harder). He said the cold weather was tough for the hitters. He tried not to think about it.

“But I think once we get a little warmer weather, I think, and get the arm going a little bit more, then I’ll see where I’m truly at,” Morton said.

But Monday was good.

Really good.

Braves starter Charlie Morton delivers a pitch in the first inning of Monday's game against the White Sox in Chicago.

Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

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Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

2. During a 44-minute rain delay in the eighth inning, Austin Riley, who was due up when play resumed, tried to stay hot by hitting in the cage. Yes, he wanted his at-bat to go well. But he also wanted to remain loose to avoid injury.

When the game started again, Riley stepped up to the plate and sent a 387-foot, three-run homer over the right-center field fence.

“Yeah, that was crazy,” Snitker said. “I don’t know how the heck he did that.”

Snitker later said this: “I kind of feel – because he was out there ready to go. And them guys like that, when they see runners on base – that’s why these guys knock in 100 runs, because they don’t leave many out there. He was out there ready to go before everybody else. That’s just kind of crazy, what he did.”

If you’re going to keep playing, you might as well hit your first homer of the season.

“You try to stay mentally locked in knowing that there’s a good chance you’re gonna go back out there, and (you) do everything you can to be prepared,” Riley said. “Try to stay as locked in as possible.”

3. Remember when Orlando Arcia was a backup infielder? He’s creating distance between then and now because he continues producing.

In the top of the fourth inning, Arcia hit a two-run double to help the Braves add to their lead. Those were his first RBIs of the season.

Through four games, Arcia has four doubles.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen is just the confidence level of just going out there every day, knowing that he’s going to be in the lineup, and he’s putting up great at-bats,” Riley said. “I think the confidence level of knowing that he’s an everyday big leaguer, he’s an All-Star, I think that’s awesome.”

4. Riley summed up Morton in the perfect way:

“The old saying, he’s aging like a fine wine. I think that’s about as true as it comes. He’s just the ultimate professional.”

5. While Morton kept the White Sox quiet, his teammates gave him plenty of run support.

The Braves scored in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. They built a six-run lead.

Through four games, the Braves have scored at least nine runs in three different games.

Monday was also another great performance from the bullpen as Dylan Lee threw 1 1/3 scoreless frames before Tyler Matzek added a scoreless inning.

Stat to know

9 - Over their first four games, the Braves are averaging almost nine runs per contest.


“It’s just every time he pitches, it’s impressive to me. Just the whole body of work. We said it all last year, we were talking about it, how the ball is still coming out of his hand at his age, and (after all of) the innings. It’s just a testament, I think, to Charlie’s dedication to the game and taking care of himself, and the work ethic, and everything.”-Snitker on Morton

Up next

Reynaldo López, a starting pitcher again, will face his former team on Tuesday – if the weather allows. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:40 p.m.