Charlie Morton hits 11 in Braves’ walk-off win over Giants


Charlie Morton hits 11 in Braves' walk-off win over Giants

ATLANTA — Rather than endure what would have been a losing streak, a rejuvenated Charlie Morton felt himself sucking up the energy created by the Braves’ second walk-off win in three days.

“I think it was the energy and the feeling that the guys could smell blood in the water right there,” Morton said when asked how he felt chasing down the final inning.

Two nights after Orlando Arcia delivered a walk-off single, the Braves built an even more dramatic finish. Morton recorded 11 strikeouts over seven innings, but allowed solo home runs for both Mike Yastrzemski and Darin Ruf. The Giants scored another run from AJ Minter in the top of ninth before the Braves responded with their most exciting inning of the season.

“It’s one thing to win games, but it’s another thing to win games when you’re behind,” Swanson said. “We were good when we got out early. But coming back wasn’t exactly our forte.”

The Braves entered this game 2-24 when trailing after six innings and 0-26 when trailing after either the seventh or eighth innings. But they made sure to capitalize on a launch that gave further reason to believe Morton might be rolling, just as he had this time last year.

“These guys are used to it [coming back]said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “They expect them to do it. It’s just the makeup of the club.”

Now that they’re picking up some late-inning wins again, the Braves are starting to look like the defending World Series champions. They have won 17 of their last 20 games and are just 4 1/2 games behind the first-placed Mets in the National League East.

Swanson came up behind Jake McGee with a 0-2 count before hurling a full-count fastball over the midfield wall. Ozuna followed by somehow picking up a countercourt single with his racquet essentially vertically. He intensified the tone of the frame as he tagged Matt Olson’s long flyball to center and raced into second. William Contreras followed with a groundbreaking single.

“[Ozuna’s] The game was one of the greatest because it put him in goal position,” Swanson said.

Before Wednesday’s game, the Braves had a baserunning meeting just to refocus on when it’s best to be aggressive. Ozuna’s aggression proved valuable and Contreras continued to heat up the rally as he finished second to account for his second stolen base of his career. This set the stage for Duvall to score the young backup catcher with his single in the middle.

“It was pretty ugly for everyone except for [Morton] for the first six innings,” Swanson said. “But keeping it within striking distance and doing what we’ve been doing is definitely a good feeling.”

Morton certainly feels better than he did when he posted a 6.85 ERA in his first five starts this season. His early struggles may have simply stemmed from needing to gain solace and confidence as he distanced himself from the broken leg he sustained in Game 1 of the World Series.

A troubling outcome of these early outings was the fact that Morton didn’t miss any racquets and his patented curveball wasn’t effective. He competed by attempting to shuffle the pitches effectively while patiently waiting to get where he is now after posting double-digit strikeout totals in two of his last three games.

Morton has recorded 32 strikeouts and conceded just one walk while going 20 innings total in his last three starts. The right-hander has gone through a season-high seven innings in his last two games.

As for the swing and miss? Morton entered June after only twice conceding more than 10 puffs in a game. He has posted double digits in each of his four starts in June.

Just as the Braves have achieved their form, Morton has achieved his form.

“I think the guys are in a really good place no matter who we’re playing,” Morton said. “There’s a good momentum in the clubhouse right now.”

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