Game Information: Indianapolis Indians (1-0) at Iowa Cubs (0-1)
LOCATION: Principal Park
FIRST PITCH: 7:38 PM ET
GAME #2 / Road #2: Indianapolis Indians (1-0) at Iowa Cubs (0-1)
PROBABLES: RHP Beau Sulser (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Ben Holmes (0-0, 0.00)
RADIO: FoxSportsIndy.com / Fox Sports 1260 / iHeart app
TV: MiLB TV
LAST NIGHT: The Indians won their first Opening Day contest since 2017 behind a stellar outing from RHP Chase De Jong and Triple-A debut for the ages by Travis Swaggerty. Swaggerty opened the game with Indianapolis' first leadoff home run since 5/21/19 at Louisville, and soon the pitching staff was working with an early 2-0 lead. De Jong stunned the I-Cubs offense, fanning a career-high tying 10 batters for the first time since 2015 and taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The Indians pitching staff combined for 15 strikeouts in the 3-0 win, with three bullpen arms combining for 3.0 hitless innings to keep the shutout intact.
SHUTTING 'EM OUT: Last night's dominance of the Cubs' offense marked the Indians first Opening Day shutout since opening the 1998 season with a 3-0 win vs. Toledo. Indianapolis last shut out Iowa in 1997, when LHP Pedro Martinez tossed 8.0 shutout innings and allowed only three hits in a 1-0 victory.
SWAGGERTY'S SWINGING: With his solo leadoff home run last night, Travis Swaggerty became the first Indians player in the Victory Field era (since 1997) to open the season with a home run. The 23-year-old jumped from High-A in 2019 to Triple-A this season and did not disappoint in his debut, going 3-for-4 with two RBI after driving in a run on the long ball and a ninth-inning single. Swaggerty entered this season rated as Pittsburgh's No. 14 prospect by Baseball America, dropping from his previous top-10 rankings the two seasons prior.
YOUNG BUCS: All three of the Indians runs were driven in by players making the jump from High-A to Triple-A this season. Along with Swaggerty's two RBI, third baseman Dylan Busby joined in on the action with a first-inning single to give the Indians the 2-0 lead. In 2019 with Bradenton, Busby hit .213 (80-for-375) and paced the Florida State League with 22 home runs. Of Indianapolis' nine total hits, six came off the bat of a player making their Triple-A debut (also: right fielder Chris Sharpe).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEAU: Right-handed pitcher Beau Sulser makes his Triple-A debut tonight on his 27th birthday. Sulser spent the entire 2019 season with Altoona, going 8-3 with a 2.72 ERA (29er/96.0ip) and 63 strikeouts in 33 appearances (six starts). As a starter, he went 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA (12er/28.0ip). The California native did not participate in organized baseball activities in 2020.
OWEN'S UP: The Pittsburgh Pirates selected UTIL Hunter Owen from the taxi squad last night to fill in for an injured OF Gregory Polanco on the big-league roster. Owen, an Evansville, Ind. native, made his Triple-A debut with the Indians in 2019 after leading the Eastern League with a .295 average, 70 hits, 15 home runs, a .565 slugging percentage, 134 total bases and 45 runs scored at the time of his promotion to Indianapolis (June 20). Owen spent the 2020 summer working at Stony Creek Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind. part-time while also continuing his baseball workouts.
SIX-GAMERS: Last night marked the Indians' first of six consecutive games at Iowa following a restructuring of the schedule for 2021. Indianapolis will now play 20 six-game series against its opponents, a provision implemented to limit travel and prevent the spread of COVID-19 between multiple teams. All series for the season run Tuesday through Sunday, with no games scheduled for Mondays.
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).
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), Chase De Jong (27), Anthony Alford (26), and Dustin Fowler (26).
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