By Donball09 via Wikimedia CommonsThe liner hit Morton in his glove hand, injuring his thumb. After the infield turned an inning-ending double play to close out the sixth inning, the right-hander couldn't close his glove. His night was finished after six shutout innings, allowing four hits, one walk and six strikeouts.
His premature exit led to getting x-rays, which David Todd of ESPN Pittsburgh tweeted good news:
Clint said Charlie Morton had to leave the game because of the ball hitting his glove thumb. No fracture on X-rays. #Pirates @injuryexpertPittsburgh would eventually pull out the victory in a 16-inning marathon at PNC Park, improving to 2-0 on the season.
— David Todd (@DTonPirates) April 3, 2014
Placed in the front-end of manager Clint Hurdle's starting rotation behind Francisco Liriano, Morton is expected to be a significant contributor in 2014. He's coming off his best overall season as a professional, posting a 7-4 record in 116 innings pitched. He put together career-bests in ERA (3.26) and WHIP (1.28).
Forming a solid one-two punch with Liriano at the top of the rotation will be important if the Pirates plan to compete in the National League Central division and return to the postseason for the second year in a row.
You can follow Matt on Twitter: @mmusico8.