May 21 Game Notes: Iowa vs. Columbus
IOWA CUBS (22-17) vs. COLUMBUS CLIPPERS (25-15)
Saturday - 6:08 - Principal Park - Des Moines, IA
RHP Matt Swarmer (3-0, 1.85) vs. LHP Tanner Tully (3-0, 3.44)
TONIGHT'S GAME: Iowa will go for the series win tonight, handing the ball to Matt Swarmer. Swarmer is tied for the team lead in wins this year with three, holding a 3-0 record with a 1.85 ERA. The righty is set to make his fifth start and ninth appearance of the season tonight, facing the Clippers for the first time this season. Opposite of Swarmer will be lefty Tanner Tully, set to make his seventh start of the year for Columbus. Tully, like Swarmer, is 3-0 on the year, bringing a 3.44 ERA into tonight's game. He has struck out 23 batters to just three walks this season, allowing 13 earned runs on 37 hits.
LIGHTS OUT: On Tuesday, Iowa suffered a 9-3 loss, going down in the series one game to zero. In that loss, their bullpen allowed six earned runs on six hits and eight walks while striking out three batters over their 4.1 innings pitched. Their eight walks in a single game tied for the most they have surrendered all year, doing it on both April 29 against Indianapolis and May 7 at St. Paul. Since then, they have completely shut down the Clippers offense, throwing 12.1 scoreless innings over the last three games. On Wednesday, three pitchers combined to allow just two hits and walk three while striking out five. They followed that with just two pitchers on Thursday combining to strike out eight batters over 3.1 innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. Again last night, Iowa's relievers threw five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out five. All told, the bullpen has struck out 18 batters compared to just six walks in the last three games, good for a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT: With four games against Columbus in the books, Iowa has outscored the Clippers 26 to 15 and collected at least seven runs in all three of their victories this week. In contrast to the first month of the season, the I-Cubs have secured their wins primarily by adding on runs in the late innings. During their current three-game winning streak, Iowa has scored at least one run in all three seventh innings and two of the three eighth innings. During the same stretch, Iowa's bullpen has completely shut down opponents in the final innings. The pitching staff has not allowed a single run in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning, and the only two runs they've allowed after the fourth inning have been unearned. Prior to this series, opponents had been outscoring the I-Cubs 54 to 44 in the final three innings. In this series, Iowa has outscored Columbus in the final three innings nine runs to six.
INCHING CLOSER: Since starting his Major League rehab assignment on Tuesday, Clint Frazier has played in three games for Iowa. In his first game, the outfielder went 0-for-4, but has since recorded at least one hit in each of his last two games. On Wednesday, he went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while yesterday he notched he first multi-hit game with the I-Cubs. The outfielder went 2-for-4 with a run scored a two doubles last night.
SEASON OF THE SWARM: Matt Swarmer gets the nod tonight and will take the mound for his fifth start this season. After beginning the year as a long reliever, Swarmer has excelled in the rotation, going 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA (7ER/20.1IP) as a starter. Those numbers put his overall season ERA at 1.85 (7ER/34.0IP), which ranks third in all of Triple-A baseball. Part of Swarmer's success this season has been his ability to keep the ball in the park; he has allowed just two home runs through his first 34.0 innings. In his first 34.0 innings with the I-Cubs last year, Swarmer allowed ten home runs. In addition to the improved home run totals, Swarmer has also increased his strikeout numbers. His 39 strikeouts this year currently rank second on the active roster and outpace his 2021 total after 34.0 innings by 11. All said, Swarmer is holding opponents to a .167 average and a .258 slugging percentage.
LEADING THE WAY: P.J. Higgins collected three more hits last night, making it three straight games with multiple hits and each of his last four starts. Higgins is leading the team with his .417 batting average this season. Despite playing in 11 less games than the team leader, the 29-year-old is just seven hits shy of the team lead. With another multi-hit effort last night, he now has nine multi-hit games this season, tied for second with Jared Young and Robel Garcia, trailing Dixon Machado by two games. Higgins is also tied for most multi-RBI games on the team with Garcia, each having five. Over his last three games, Higgins is hitting .700 (7-for-10) with three doubles and seven runs batted in. Over that span, he has walked once and struck out just once. If you date back to Sunday, May 8, the catcher is batting .750 (12-for-16) with four doubles and eight runs batted in.
AGAINST COLUMBUS: Coming off three straight wins, Iowa will look to take their second straight series victory tonight against Columbus in game five of their six-game set. After losing game one by six runs, Iowa has turned the series around and now controls an 11-run advantage over the Clippers in the series, outscoring them 26-15 through the first four games. With their 7-3 win last night, Iowa moved to 7-9 all-time against Columbus including going 4-6 all-time at Principal Park against the Clippers. With a win tonight, they could tie the number of wins they had all last year against the Clippers.
SHORT HOPS: Iowa moved to 3-0 on Friday's in the month of May after winning 7-3 last night...the I-Cubs have 11 wins in the month of May so far, matching their win total from the entire month of April with nine games left to play...Saturday is the only day of the week that Iowa has a losing record this season, holding a 2-4 record entering tonight's game...Cam Sanders became the first starter for Iowa this series to not receive a decision with his four innings pitched last night.
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