Matt Olson hit a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning and the game was over before dusk. The Atlanta Braves cruised to a 9-0 victory against the Chicago White Sox in front of another sold out crowd at Truist Park Friday night.
Olson has 30 home runs, which is second in all of baseball (only Shohei Ohtani, 32, has more) and 76 RBIs which leads all of baseball. The last time a Braves’ player led the Majors in either statistic was Andruw Jones in 2005.
In an odd turn of events, the White Sox activated Michael Kopech from the 15-day injured list at about 4:00 PM Eastern Time after suffering from shoulder inflammation. However, Kopech didn’t get out of the first inning because he issued four walks, hit Braves shortstop Ozzie Albies and gave up the grand slam to Olson. Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Austin Riley would score.
Charlie Morton went seven innings, while scattering only three hits and walking three. Morton has never lost to Chicago, going 4-0 in the process. Morton also is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his last five starts.
Recently, the Braves have had a penchant for getting big leads early in games and coasting to victory. However, Morton has pitched 1,900 innings over his sixteen year career, he expressed empathy for Kopech and the other pitchers who have had to endure such a beatdown.
“Sometimes it’s hard to watch that part of it because they’re relentless,” said Morton. I mean, there have been so many first innings where it’s like, ‘Man, you get out on the mound and all you want is to just get through that first inning.’ I know it sounds like a weird mentality. But there have been times in my career where it was a struggle to get through the first inning. And there were a couple of times where I didn’t. I feel for those guys because it’s tough and those aren’t cheap hits either. It looks like they’re meant to just hit the ball really really hard every time. It’s so weird to watch, and man, I don’t know! Being on the right side of that is great. But the empathy from me is there.”
Former Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint did a serviceable job after coming on for the beleaguered Kopech. Toussaint pitched 5⅓ innings and gave up one run on three hits, while striking out four.
With the victory, the Braves are on track to winning 109 games, which would break the record of 106 wins tallied by the 1998 club.
However, the Braves have done a great job of keeping their heads down and taking things day by day. Olson says the team’s consistent approach is emblematic of Morton’s career.
“Charlie doesn’t say too much,” described OIson of Charlie Morton. “A guy just goes about everything the right way, genuinely cares for everyone. Like he just said, we got some younger starters. Last year and this year since I’ve been here, it’s like Charlie’s kind of a Papa Bear. Someone that everybody can go to. Like I’ve been saying, he’s someone that’s done it for so long. It’s a great person to have in your corner who has questions or you know, he’s been through every scenario.”
Spencer Strider will take the hill for the Braves while Lance Lynn will pitch for the White Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM Eastern Time.