ARLINGTON, Texas – Charlie Morton made the slow stroll to the dugout after one of the worst starts of his stellar, and somewhat improbable, four-year postseason run. Could that walk be his last?
The righthander gave up seven hits and five runs in 4⅓ innings of a 6-2 loss to Los Angeles in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night, ending Morton's bid to tie Orlando Hernandez's record eight consecutive winning postseason decisions.
"I never really felt comfortable out there," Morton said. "Even in playoff games, I'm able to eventually get there if I don't get there early. And I just never did. Combine that with who they are with the bat, and it made for a rough night."
Morton was coming off a victory over the Astros in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series that extended his major league record to four career victories in winner-take-all games. It was the second of two scoreless outings against Houston in the ALCS.
This one wasn't winner-take-all, and Morton was rather ordinary in an otherwise extraordinary postseason career for an understated, and largely unknown, pitcher who overcame elbow ligament replacement surgery and two hip operations to turn a 46-71 record through his first nine big-league seasons into a 47-18 mark since.
"He's set the bar as high as anybody in the game right now in postseason success on the mound," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.
If he pitches again in this Series, it would likely be a Game 7 with another chance to extend his record in the clutch, although a relief appearance earlier isn't out of the question.
After that, Morton's future is murky. The Rays hold a $15 million option on his contract for next season. If they decline it, Morton, who turns 37 next month, has talked about retiring.
No Gold Glove for Kiermaier
Kevin Kiermaier knew the questions were coming, and had plenty of time to think about toning down his answers.
The Tampa Bay center fielder still didn't hold back much when asked about not being among the three finalists for the AL Gold Glove at his position. He's a three-time winner, most recently last year.
"I was disappointed," he said. "I was upset. I feel like what I did defensively was underappreciated this year. I wasn't flawless by any means, but I thought I was darn good out there. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset about it."
The AL finalists are the Twins' Byron Buxton, the 2017 winner; Oakland's Ramon Laureano; and White Sox rookie Luis Robert. "Not even being a nominee for top three, that's where I had to scratch my head a few times and think it over," Kiermaier said.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hit his 11th career postseason homer, a solo shot off Morton in the first inning of Game 3, to tie Duke Snider for the franchise lead, according to MLB. Turner is already the club leader in career postseason hits, RBI and doubles.
All of Turner's postseason homers have come since he turned 30, putting him third on the list of players with homers at 30 or older, according to STATS. Nelson Cruz is the leader with 17, followed by Jim Edmonds with 13.
• Tampa Bay's Randy Arozarena homered off Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning to pass Derek Jeter for the most postseason hits by a rookie with 23.
It was also Arozarena's eighth homer this postseason, tying Barry Bonds (2002 with San Francisco), Carlos Beltran (2004 with Houston) and Cruz (2011 with Texas) for the most in a single postseason. Arozarena hit seven home runs during the regular season.