PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Charlie Morton’s throwing elbow shot was eerily reminiscent of the comeback that broke Atlanta’s postseason ace’s right leg in last year’s World Series.
Just like last October, Morton tried to push through in his Game 4 start for Atlanta. Unlike last October, when he threw 16 pitches with a broken leg and won a World Series ring for his efforts, Morton heads home with an injured right elbow and a long offseason ahead of him.
Atlanta will not repeat as champion this year.
Morton gave up a three-run homer to Brandon Marsh and the Philadelphia Phillies routed the Braves 8-3 in Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Saturday. Atlanta’s loss meant that Major League Baseball hasn’t had a repeat champion since the New York Yankees won three in a row between 1998 and 2000.
Philadelphia finished third in the NL East with a record of 87-75, 14 games behind the Braves’ 101 wins this season.
But in this series, those numbers were as empty as the beer bottles scattered around the Phillies’ clubhouse in their raucous celebration of reaching the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2010.
“The goal was to get to the postseason. We did it and it didn’t happen,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “So you know what? We’ll take a couple of months off and we’ll all get together in North Port in March and try to do it again.”
Morton was hit on his pitching elbow by Alec Bohm’s single traveling 71.9 mph to lead off the second inning. After being tagged, Morton allowed a single to Jean Segura and hung a 2-2 curveball that Marsh threw deep into the right-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
Morton, a standout postseason eliminator, wanted to keep pitching.
“It put me in a good place,” Morton said. “I don’t think she hit him particularly hard. I knew he was going to have to try to keep me loose and keep an eye on him. I didn’t think he couldn’t throw. It just sucks.
The Braves were 10 1/2 games behind the Mets in early June and lost four of five to New York in early August. But they were on familiar territory. Atlanta was 30-35 at one point last season before winning the World Series.
This year, the first since star Freddie Freeman left to sign with the Dodgers, they came back to topple the Mets and win their fifth straight NL East title.
The franchise that put together an unprecedented streak of 14 straight division titles in the 1990s and 2000s attempted a memorable streak for another season after winning its first World Series since 1995.
“Losing sucks, especially when you get a chance to finally taste victory,” Morton said.
Atlanta seemed lost at times in Game 4.
The most puzzling play came in the third inning when Phillies catcher JT Realmuto hit a drive deep into the angled portion of the wall beyond the reach of center fielder Michael Harris II, and the carom rolled down the lane. warning to the right center. Ronald Acuña Jr. stood in right field watching the play and didn’t start running toward the ball until Realmuto passed first base.
The mental error helped Realmuto become the first catcher in postseason history to hit an inside-the-park home run.
Atlanta seemed headed for a wild card, at best, until it became one of the best teams in baseball and finished the season with a 78-34 run. Most memorably, they swept a three-game series from New York in the final weekend of the regular season, claiming another division title in a playoff, and a first-round bye, as both teams finished 101-61.
The Braves have secured most of the core that should keep them a contender for years. Rookie right-hander Spencer Strider, third baseman Austin Riley and Harris signed long-term contracts this season. Acuña is tied to the Braves through 2027, while second baseman Ozzie Albies is on a reduced contract that ties him to Atlanta for three more seasons.
They just don’t know if they’ll sign shortstop Dansby Swanson.
“The longer I’ve been here, the longer I’ve seen and noticed what an impact he has on every person in this clubhouse,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “I hope he’s back.”
None of that really mattered in the Braves’ locker room that day, once they slumped in Philadelphia.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports