The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies got a massive series underway on Tuesday night.
With the NL East still undetermined, the Phillies entered the series with a chance to take the division lead away from the Braves with a sweep.
Atlanta, on the other hand, entered with a chance to clinch the division with a sweep.
The first game of the series is now in the books, and let’s just say this: Philadelphia won’t be leaving Atlanta with the division lead.
The Braves got a massive win in the opening game of the series, and Charlie Morton is largely to thank.
He tossed a gem in his most important start of the season.
Appreciating Morton’s Outing
Some players are simply built for high-pressure situations, and Morton is seemingly one of those players.
Proof: He has a career 3.38 ERA over 13 postseason appearances.
Tuesday’s start might as well have been a playoff outing considering what was on the line.
He certainly pitched like he knew what was at stake.
The righty tossed seven shutout innings, fanned 10, and allowed just five base-runners.
He gave up two hits in the first inning then only allowed one more knock for the remainder of his outing.
The veteran was electric.
Charlie Morton did 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 in the biggest game of the season to date:
▪️0 runs allowed
▪️10 strikeouts pic.twitter.com/vmRKQib5XD
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) September 29, 2021
He exited with a 2-0 lead, and the Atlanta bullpen protected it.
The Braves came away with a 2-1 win to take a commanding 3.5-game lead in the NL East.
Morton Has Answered The Call All Year Long For Atlanta
What a year it has been for Morton.
After posting a 4.74 ERA over nine outings in last year, the 37-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Braves over the offseason in hopes of erasing his poor 2020.
It’s safe to say he has done so.
He has a 3.39 ERA, 130 ERA+, 3.20 FIP, and 1.06 WHIP over 32 outings.
He has fanned 213 batters in 183 innings, and he has a solid WAR of 3.9.
Charlie Morton, 82mph Curveball and 97mph Fastball, Overlay. 😯 pic.twitter.com/avyqbk6XMz
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 29, 2021
Plus, if you remove his first eight starts this season (all of which came before he really started to hit his stride), then he has a 2.94 ERA on the year.
What’s not to like about that?
Morton’s stellar year prompted the Braves to give the two-time All-Star a $20 million extension through the 2022 season with an option for 2023.
The deal was agreed upon earlier this month.
After Tuesday night’s victory, the Braves now really only need to win one more game in this series against Philadelphia to put the NL East out of reach.
Obviously, two more wins over the Phillies to finish off the series would officially make the division race a done deal, but even if Atlanta wins just one, the NL East will become a foregone conclusion.
Both of those guys are capable of keeping things moving in the right direction.
Within the next few days, we could be talking about an NL East title for this Braves team.
Fans need to watch out for Atlanta in the postseason, because this club certainly has the potential to make some noise.