LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Jorge Soler smashed a home run on the first swing of the game and Adam Duvall blasted a two-run homer as the Atlanta Braves rolled over the Houston Astros 6-2 in the opening contest of the World Series on Tuesday.
The Braves, who are in their first World Series since 1999 and haven’t won the Fall Classic since 1995, used a blistering start to post five runs in the first three innings and never looked back.
Both starting pitchers exited the game early, the Braves Charlie Morton with a broken leg and Astros Framber Valdez after giving up five runs on eight hits in just two innings in his World Series debut.
Braves closer Will Smith got the final out in the ninth inning by forcing Michael Brantley to ground out to second base.
“It was huge to get this first one tonight,” said Braves third baseman Austin Riley. “The series is far from over. That is a real good ball club. We got to get ready for tomorrow.”
Game two is Wednesday night in Houston.
The win was costly for the Braves, who lost Morton for the rest of the best-of-seven World Series with a broken right fibula after he was hit by a ground ball.
The 37-year-old Morton took an inning to find his form so it was left to the Atlanta batters to deliver the early fireworks in front of a crowd of 40,060 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
The Astros, who lost in seven games to Washington in the 2019 World Series, are back in the title matchup for the third time in five seasons.
Houston manager Dusty Baker said the bounces went in favor of the Braves.
“Tomorrow is another day and who knows,” said Baker, who is in the World Series for the first time since 2002. “The way I look at it is tomorrow the ball is going to bounce our way.”
The Braves wasted no time getting off on the right foot as designated hitter Soler hit a lead off home run to make it 1-0. Soler took two balls then launched a 382 foot hit into left field.
Three batters later Riley hit an RBI double, scoring Ozzie Albies as the Braves took an early 2-0 lead.
Atlanta’s Morton survived a scare in the first inning as he fell behind the Houston hitters, who loaded the bases. But Morton got right fielder Kyle Tucker to ground out to first to end the inning stranding three runners on base.
The Braves tacked on another run in the second when Soler grounded into fielder’s choice to the shortstop and Travis d’Arnaud scored. Atlanta threatened to score more runs but also left the bases loaded in their half of the inning.
Braves made it 5-0 when Duvall belted a homer to left field in the third which scored outfielder Eddie Rosario.
Atlanta are first team in history of World Series to score a run in each of the first three innings of game one.
Duvall’s home run chased Valdez from the mound.
A half inning later, the Braves lost Morton, who had been hit earlier by a grounder that went off his right ankle. He initially stayed in the game but the ankle started swelling up, and it became too painful for him to continue. He was replaced by lefthander AJ Minter.
The Braves announced during the game that Morton had suffered a right fibula fracture and would miss the rest of the World Series.
Morton struck out three and allowed no runs on one hit in a little over two innings of work.
Pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who replaced Valdez, put a stop to the bleeding for the Astros by striking out Riley to end the top of the fourth inning.
Astros got their first run in the bottom of the fourth when Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson made an error on a routine grounder that allowed Kyle Tucker to score and cut the lead to 5-1. It was the first error by a Braves infielder in the playoffs.
Swanson scored the Braves final run in the eighth when Freddie Freeman hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
Minter was credited with the win after striking out three and allowing just one run in two-plus innings of work.