Game Information: Indianapolis Indians (0-0) at Iowa Cubs (0-0)
LOCATION: Principal Park
FIRST PITCH: 7:38 PM ET
GAME #1 / ROAD #1: Indianapolis Indians (0-0) at Iowa Cubs (0-0)
PROBABLES: RHP Chase De Jong (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Joe Biagini (0-0, 0.00)
RADIO: FoxSportsIndy.com / Fox Sports 1260 / iHeart app
TV: MiLB TV
2020 WAS WEIRD: Following the suspension of spring training operations on March 12, 2020, the Minor League Baseball season was postponed indefinitely due to the rising COVID-19 pandemic. On June 30, the Indianapolis Ind-ians season was canceled as Major League Baseball moved forward with plans for Alternate Training Sites, Pittsburgh's of which was housed at PNC Field in Altoona, Pa., home of the Double-A Altoona Curve. Multiple members of the 2019 Indians team were split up between Pittsburgh and Altoona for Summer Camp, with a handful cracking the Pirates Opening Day roster: RHPs JT Brubaker, Mitch Keller and Dovydas Neverauskas, C Jacob Stallings, INFs Erik Gonzalez, Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker and Jose Osuna, and OF Jason Martin.
OPENING DAY: The Indians enter Opening Day 2021 on a two-game losing streak in season openers. Since 1997, Indianapolis has gone 10-13 in Opening Day contests, with a 6-6 record at home and 4-7 on the road. Dating back to 1988, the Indians and I-Cubs have met once on Opening Day, with the Indians taking the April 6, 1990 contest at Iowa's Sec Taylor Stadium, 4-2. Indianapolis went on to take the season series, 7-5, but finished the season with a 61-85 record compared to Iowa's 72-75.
ESPO RETURNS: Skipper Brian Esposito returns for his third season as the Indians manager after being tabbed for the role in 2020 but instead spending the season in Altoona, Pa. at Pittsburgh's Alternate Training Site. In his first two seasons in Indianapolis, Esposito owns a 139-141 record (.496) with back-to-back T-2nd finishes in the International League West. After leading the Indians to a 73-67 record (.521) in 2018, the team finished sub-.500 for the first time since 2016 with a 66-74 record (.471) in 2019. He is joined by newcomers to Indianapolis' coaching staff: pitching coach Joel Hanrahan, hitting coach Jon Nunnally and coach Gustavo Omana.
WELCOME TO THE TRIPLE-A EAST: After 22 seasons in the International League, Indianapolis is now a member of the Triple-A East following the reallignment of Minor League Baseball. All 14 International League teams (with the exception of Pawtucket, which moved to Worcester), with the addition of the Iowa Cubs (CHI), Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (MIA), Memphis Redbirds (STL), Nashville Sounds (MIL), Omaha Storm Chasers (KC) and St. Paul Saints (MIN), make up the Triple-A East. The Indians will now face Columbus, Iowa, Louisville, Omaha, St. Paul and Toledo as part of the Midwest division, with inter-division play at Nashville (June 8-13) and vs. Memphis (June 15-20).
HISTORY VS. IOWA: Indianapolis and Iowa played each other from 1969-1997 as members of the American Association. Since 1988, the Indians are 91-65 (.583) against the I-Cubs, with a 50-27 (.649) record at home and 41-38 (.519) record on the road. On 6/23/97, the Indians scored 10 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to set a Victory Field era record for runs in a single inning, and went on to beat Iowa by 16 runs (18-2), the largest margin of victory for Indianapolis against Iowa since 1988.
YA-HOO IS HERE: Right-handed pitcher Miguel Yajure enters the 2021 Triple-A season as Pittsburgh's highest-ranked prospect (No. 10 BA, No. 12 MLB Pipeline) on the Indians Opening Day roster. He was traded to Pittsburgh on Jan. 24, 2021 in a deal that sent former Indians pitcher Jameson Taillon to the Yankees in exchange for a handful of young farmhands. The 23-year-old made his MLB debut in 2020 without seeing any career time in Triple-A and has made one start with Pittsburgh so far this season (4/21 (2) at Detroit; L, 4.1ip, 4h, 4r, 4er, 2hr, 2bb, 4k).
OUTFIELD'S GOT SWAG(GERTY): Outfielder and Pittsburgh's No. 14/9 prospect (Baseball America/MLB Pipeline) Travis Swaggerty makes the jump from High-A to Triple-A this season after spending all of 2020 at Pittsburgh's Alternate Training Site. The 23-year-old was named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2019 after ranking among Pirates minor leaguers in walks (2nd, 57), runs scored (3rd, 79), stolen bases (4th, 23), hits (T-4th, 121) and total bases (10th, 174).
BACK AGAIN: Returners to the Indians roster include 2019 MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Award winning first baseman Will Craig, second baseman Kevin Kramer, shortstop Cole Tucker, third baseman Hunter Owen and pitchers Matt Eckelman, Geoff Hartlieb, James Marvel, Cody Ponce, Cam Vieaux and Blake Weiman. Craig, Hartlieb, Ponce and Tucker are the only four returners who saw playing time with Pittsburgh in 2020.
VETERAN PRESENCE: Multiple members of the Indians roster have years of big-league experience to complement the top prospects rising through the ranks. Steven Wright (36) and Andrew Susac (31) are the two oldest members of Indy's roster, with Wright pitching for the 2013 and 2018 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox in the regular season, and Susac owning a World Series ring after helping San Francisco to a title in 2014. Other notable veterans include Chasen Shreve (30), Christian Bethancourt (29), Chase De Jong (27), Anthony Alford (26), and Dustin Fowler (26).
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Triple-A East League Stories from May 4, 2021
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