HOUSTON — The last time the Braves won Game 1 of the World Series before Tuesday night was in 1996.
That series didn’t go Atlanta’s way, as the Yankees came back and won it in six games, with the finale occurring 25 years ago Tuesday.
If Atlanta is going to win its first title since 1995, it will have yet another obstacle to overcome following its 6-2 victory over Houston at Minute Maid Park.
The win cost them Charlie Morton, knocked out with a broken leg — but not before the right-hander got three more outs after suffering the injury.
“He wanted to keep going,’’ Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s Charlie. He wants to be on this stage. I hate it for him.”
“We’ve overcome every adversity that’s come our way,’’ ex-Met Travis d’Arnaud said. “It’s tough losing Charlie. It’s a speed bump, but we’ll stay together.”
It’s par for the course for an Atlanta team that won just 88 games in the regular season, didn’t go over .500 until Aug. 6 and overcame season-ending injuries to Ronald Acuna, Jr. (ACL) and Mike Soroka (Achilles)- as well as the absence of Marcell Ozuna because of his being placed on administrative leave following his arrest for allegedly assaulting his wife.
After winning the 4:06 marathon, the Braves are three wins away from winning it all.
“We’ve been through it many times this year, losing key components to our club,’’ Snitker said. The offense helped, as Jorge Soler drilled a leadoff homer off Framber Valdez.
It was the first time in World Series history the first batter in the first inning of the first game hit a home run. And it came in Soler’s first start since testing positive for COVID-19 before Game 4 of the NLDS.
Valdez’s night only got worse from there, as Austin Riley’s RBI double made it 2-0.
The Astros threatened in the bottom of the inning against Morton, with a one-out single by Michael Brantley and two-out walks to Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa to load the bases for Kyle Tucker.
Tucker grounded one into short right, where Ozzie Albies made a fine play to his left and a strong throw to first for the final out to keep it a two-run game.
Soler drove in his second run of the game with a grounder to short to make it 3-0.
Morton then took a hard comebacker off his right ankle from Yuli Gurriel to lead off the bottom of the second. It was the play that eventually knocked him out of the game. First, though, Morton struck out Chas McCormick and got Martin Maldonado to line to first.
Meanwhile, Atlanta kept pounding Valdez, with Adam Duvall ending the lefty’s night with a two-run shot that gave Atlanta a 5-0 lead.
After initial X-rays were negative, Morton was finally forced from the game with one out in the bottom of the third. He stumbled on his final pitch of the night, which was good enough to get Jose Altuve looking.
A limping Morton was then diagnosed with a fractured right fibula — ending his World Series.
A.J. Minter entered and threw a career-high 43 pitches over 2 ²/₃ innings.
The Astros got on the board in the fourth. Tucker doubled off Minter with one out and moved to third on a single by Gurriel. With runners on the corners, McCormick hit a grounder to short that could have resulted in an inning-ending double play. Instead, Swanson booted it, which allowed Tucker to score, Gurriel to get to third and McCormick to reach.
With runners on the corners, Minter whiffed Maldonado and got Altuve on a pop up he caught himself.
Down 6-1 in the eighth, the Astros scored a run and Gurriel belted a two-out shot high off the wall in left-center, but was thrown out at second by Rosario.
Atlanta’s pen went on to allow just a pair of runs in 6 ²/₃ innings, as the Braves improved to 20-5 since Sept. 19.
“Sometimes you get beat, and sometimes you give them the game,’’ Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “We didn’t give them anything tonight. We just got beat. … Our team doesn’t worry, and our team’s very confident. We have the knack of bouncing back after losses, after tough losses because they don’t quit, they don’t give up, they don’t get down.”
“It’s a long series,’’ Duvall said. “It’s going to be a dogfight.”