May 6 Game Notes: Iowa vs. Indianapolis
IOWA CUBS (1-1) VS. INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS (1-1)
Thursday - 7:08 PM - Principal Park - Des Moines, IA
RHP Cory Abbott (0-0, -.--) vs. RHP Cody Ponce (0-0, -.--)
TONIGHT'S GAME: After getting their first win of the season behind four home runs, Iowa will look to stay hot at the plate heading into tonight's contest. The series lead is up for grabs tonight with first pitch set for 7:08 pm.
PROSPECT DEBUT: Righty Cory Abbott is set to make not only his Iowa Cubs debut, but also his Triple-A debut tonight against Indianapolis. Abbott spent the entire 2019 campaign with Double-A Tennessee, leading the Smokies in several major categories. He registered the most wins (8), games started (26), innings pitched (146.2) and strikeouts (166) on the team. Ranked as the Chicago Cubs No. 15 prospect by MLB.com, the 2017 second round draft pick will face a Pittsburgh affiliate for the first time in his minor league career.
GRAND ENTRANCE: Abiatal Avelino hit a grand slam in just his second game in an Iowa Cubs uniform to solidify an 8-3 victory last night over Indianapolis. It was Avelino's second professional grand slam, as he hit one on April 28, 2016, against the Dunedin Blue Jays as a member of the then Advanced-A Tampa Yankees. The right-handed hitter was hitting fifth in a Yankees lineup with Jorge Mateo and Miguel Andújar in front of him. The last Iowa Cubs grand slam came almost exactly two years ago, when Dixon Machado hit a grand slam on May 16, 2019 against New Orleans.
WHAT SLOW START? The I-Cubs offense did not start the season how they wanted to Tuesday night. They were shutout in a 3-0 loss, while only managing two hits and striking out 15 times, good for a team batting average of just .069. Last night however, in game two of the series, Iowa got the sticks going. Their team average jumped to .206 as they registered eight runs on 11 hits, including four home runs. It was the first time the I-Cubs have hit four home runs in a game since July 5 of 2019, a 9-8 victory over the Memphis Redbirds. Similar to last night when Rafael Ortega hit two home runs, Ian Happ homered twice in the July 5th win. Over that span, the team had three, three home run games, most recently on August 5, 2019 in a 10-1 victory against the Tacoma Rainiers.
SIT 'EM DOWN: Despite scoring eight runs on 11 hits last night, Iowa was punched out 12 more times after striking out 15 times in the season opener. For the second night in a row, four players struck out multiple times. The last time Iowa had back-to-back games with double digit strikeouts was August 30 (11) and 31 (12) of 2019 against the Memphis Redbirds.
SLOW HIM DOWN: Cory Abbott and the rest of the I-Cubs pitching staff has a hard task in front of them, trying to slow down Indians' centerfielder Travis Swaggerty. Pittsburgh's No. 9 prospect, as ranked by MLB.com, has hurt the I-Cubs in more ways than one through the first two games of the series. In the season opener Tuesday, he single-handedly outscored Iowa's offense when he went 3-4 with a run, home run, two runs batted in and a walk. In last nights game he went 1-4 with a run scored and one RBI, but also stole two bases.
AGAINST INDIANAPOLIS: With a victory last night, Iowa's overall record against Indianapolis since 1988 moved to 66-92. The win marks our first against the Indians since 1997, the last year the two teams met prior to the new alignment of minor league baseball. Iowa was 6-12 against Indy that season, 4-5 at home and 2-7 on the road.
TRIPLE A-EAST: Before the start of the 2021 season, Major League Baseball announced a restructuring of the minor leagues. The restructure reduced the number of affiliated teams from 160 to 120, and split the Triple-A into two divisions: the Triple-A West and Triple-A East. The Triple-A East consists of three sub-divisions, the Northeast Division, Southeast Division and Midwest Division. Iowa was placed in the Midwest Division with the Columbus Clippers, Indianapolis Indians, Louisville Bats, Omaha Storm Chasers, St. Paul Saints and Toledo Mud Hens. To minimize traveling this year and for other safety measures, the I-Cubs will only play teams within their respective division.
SHORT HOPS: Rafael Ortega went 2-for-4 with two solo home runs in his first two plate appearances. In 2019, the I-Cubs had a batter hit two home runs in a single game just five times...Before last night, the last Iowa Cubs victory at Principal Park came on September 7, 2019 when the I-Cubs beat Round Rock in game 4 of the PCL semi-finals. From September 7, 2019 to last night, May 5, 2021, marked 606 days between wins for Iowa.
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