Charlie Morton threw 16 pitches with a broken leg in Atlanta Braves’ 6-2 win over his former team the Houston Astros in Game one of the World Series.
Morton had just spun a 2-2 curveball past Jose Altuve for a called third strike when he stumbled and started to fall.
The 37-year-old Atlanta right-hander braced himself with both arms and grimaced as he popped back up, then rubbed at his right ankle.
Morton’s World Series was over soon after it started.
His right fibula had been fractured when Yuli Gurriel hit a 102 mph (164kph) one-hopper off his leg leading off the second inning, a ball hit so hard it ricocheted to first baseman Freddie Freeman for an out.
By the time Morton faced Altuve leading off the third, the leg had started to swell and adrenaline no longer could overcome the pain.
Head athletic trainer George Poulis and manager Brian Snitker came to the mound, and Morton walked back to the dugout with a slight limp.
Atlanta’s bullpen took over for the rest of a 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros in the World Series opener in Houston.
By the fifth inning, the Braves said Morton’s next mound appearance was expected to be during spring training.
Morton pitched the final four innings and got the win for Houston in its Game 7 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series.
A calming, respected clubhouse presence, he was looking forward for a chance to take centre stage in his former ballpark, before opponents he considers friends.
“I’m going to feel some things when I get on that mound,” he said Monday. “I don’t think there’s any way not to.”
Morton threw 44 pitches and allowed one hit, Michael Brantley’s one-out single in the first. He struck out three and walked two.
Home runs by Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall powered the Braves to a 5-0 lead, putting Morton in position to get his first Series win since 2017.