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3 things to know about Atlanta's win over Houston in Game 1 of the World Series

Atlanta pitcher Charlie Morton left Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros with an injury that was later diagnosed as a fractured fibula.
Carmen Mandato
Getty Images
Atlanta pitcher Charlie Morton left Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros with an injury that was later diagnosed as a fractured fibula.

A broken leg, a new record and a bat man: those are three of the interesting stories that emerged from the Atlanta Braves' 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros in the first game of the World Series.

The Braves now lead the series 1-0 after seizing the road win. Houston will try to forget this game, which they trailed from the start. For the Braves, it was their first win in a World Series game since 1996. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will start shortly after 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Here are three things to know about Game 1:

Charlie Morton pitched on a broken leg, and still got outs

Braves ace Charlie Morton set a new standard for toughness, as he continued to pitch well after taking a hard-hit ball off his right shin in the Astros' first at-bat in the second inning.

The ball came off Yuli Gurriel's bat at 102.4 mph, according to MLB. X-rays taken at Minute Maid Park later revealed Morton had suffered a fracture to the fibula on his right leg — the leg the right-hander uses to push off the mound. Morton was pulled from the game — but not before he recorded three more outs, including a strikeout on a sharp curveball to the Astros' dangerous leadoff man, José Altuve, in the third inning.

Morton bent over in pain after that last pitch, using his hands to brace himself against the pitcher's mound. He then motioned to the Braves' dugout before walking gingerly off the field.

After the game, when players stopped by his locker to commiserate over his exit, Morton repeatedly replied, "I'm sorry,"according to ESPN. It was a sad end to the World Series for Morton, who was on the mound when Houston won the 2017 championship.

There was a 'bat man' in the dugout

Bat boys and girls are a common sight at big-league parks, and many of them are youngsters who scamper around to collect players' bats and carry out other duties. But TV viewers' interest was piqued when the FOX broadcast showed a rather unusual bat boy in the Braves' dugout.

The bat boy looked to be not only a full-grown man, but a rather muscled one, with long hair and a full beard. Some even said he resembled Jason Momoa.

On Twitter, many commenters remarked on his size, particularly as the bat boy was seated next to Adam Duvall, who hit a homerun in the game.

"Is it just me or does the Braves bat boy look like he should be playing for the Brewers?" one viewer asked on Twitter.

We should note that MLB teams don't normally bring their own bat boys on road trips. Instead, the home team supplies bat boys for both dugouts — the visitors' bat boy or girl simply gets a loaner uniform for each game. But some teams do travel with their own bat boys in the postseason.

In the past, the Astros have been known to employ older bat boys. In 2016, another "bat man" (also with a beard) even gave signs to a Houston batterat the plate.

Game 1's leadoff home run set a record

Atlanta's Jorge Soler hit a homerun in the top of the first inning, becoming the first player in major league history to hit a homer in the very first at-bat of a World Series game.

Soler crushed the third pitch from Houston's Framber Valdez over the left-field wall, setting the tone for his team as he returned to the starting lineup. He played only sparingly after going on the injured list in the division series.

"To be honest, I didn't know that was a thing until I was told a little later on in the game," Soler said, according to MLB. "For me, I wasn't thinking about anything like that."

Other players have homered in their team's first trip to the plate in the World Series, MLB says — but all of those hits came in the bottom of the first, not the top.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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