The Atlanta Braves have had plenty of problems with their starting rotation, but they hope they’ve found someone who can help out.
Charlie Morton will be trying to build on an impressive major league debut Thursday when the Braves wrap up a three-game series with Texas at Rangers Ballpark.
Morton (1-0, 4.50 ERA) went six innings on Saturday, allowing three runs in a 9-4 road win over the Los Angeles Angels.
“I felt pretty good once it was over with,” the 24-year-old right-hander said. “There were a few rocky spots, but I got through it. The end result is a win, so that’s what matters.”
Morton, a third-round pick in the 2002 draft, was 5-2 with a 2.05 ERA in his first season at Triple-A Richmond. He threw 64 of his 104 pitches for strikes against the Angels.
“There’s always the sense that, if you’re pitching well, they might need you at the next level,” Morton said. “So I just tried to be as prepared as possible and the situation came along.”
Morton will be trying to guide the Braves to a series win after Wednesday’s 5-2 victory over the Rangers (36-37). Omar Infante hit a tiebreaking single as the Braves scored three runs in the ninth inning, and Chipper Jones went 2-for-5 with a homer to keep his batting average at .400.
The Braves own the worst road record in the majors at 11-26 but have won four of six away from home.
Atlanta’s pitching staff also got a boost, as Mike Gonzalez threw a perfect ninth for his first save of the season and 31st straight. The appearance was the first since May 15, 2007 for Gonzalez, who was removed from the disabled list before the game, 13 months after ligament replacement surgery in his left elbow.
“It’s just a great feeling letting (the ball) go without having to think about it,” the left-hander said. “It felt like my major league debut again. I definitely wanted to get that opportunity to do that at the end of the game.”
The Rangers lost for the fourth time in six games, falling back under .500. Texas leads the majors with 5.52 runs per game, but has managed a total of just five in its last three losses.
The Rangers were without Milton Bradley, who entered Wednesday as the AL leader with a .330 batting average, because of a strained right quadriceps. Bradley hurt himself in Tuesday’s series opener, a 7-5 Texas win, but manager Ron Washington said he expects him to return for the finale.
Washington will be handing the ball to Scott Feldman (1-3, 4.84), who is trying for his first win since May 9 against Oakland. The 25-year-old right-hander gave up seven runs in five innings of Friday’s 7-1 road loss to the New York Mets, falling to 0-2 with a 5.35 ERA over his last six starts.
The Rangers are just 1-10 in his 11 outings - including nine starts - this season.
“He went out there to find his rhythm,” Washington said. “He’s one of those guys who hasn’t gotten much run support.”
Feldman, who has never faced the Braves, is 0-3 with a 9.35 ERA in 12 career interleague appearances, including the one start.