The Indians open their 2018 season and 117th in franchise history tonight against the Columbus Clippers.
Location: Victory Field
First Pitch: 7:15 p.m. ET
Game #1/Home #1: Indianapolis Indians (0-0) vs. Columbus Clippers (0-0)
Probables: RHP Nick Kingham vs. LHP Shawn Morimando
Radio: Fox Sports 97.5 / AM 1260
TV: Comcast 90 / MiLB TV
WELCOME BACK: The Indianapolis Indians, in continuous operation since 1902, open the 117th season in franchise history tonight, welcoming a division foe and recent rival, Columbus, to Circle City. The Indians have been part of the International League since 1998, in addition to a one-year showing in 1963 when Indy secured its first of two Governors’ Cup Championships (also: 2000).
DRESS APPROPRIATELY: First pitch temperatures this evening are expected to hover around 40 degrees. Last year, Indy’s home opener against Toledo was a somewhat chilly affair as well, with the first pitch temperature being 48 degrees. Indy won that game by a 7-4 final, thanks to a five-run seventh inning that featured home runs by Jason Rogers and Max Moroff.
SPEAKING OF OPENING DAY: The Indians snapped a two-game Opening Day slide last year with their win over the Mud Hens. Tonight, the Tribe will seek its first winning streak on Opening Day since the early 2000s. Indianapolis last won consecutive games on Opening Day from 2003-05, winning 8-2 at Columbus, 2-1 at Norfolk and 7-5 vs. Pawtucket. Indy also reeled off four straight Opening Day wins from 1998-2001. They blanked Toledo 3-0 in ’98 and won again over the Mud Hens at Victory Field in ’99 by a 9-7 score. In 2000, Indy won 5-2 at Richmond before earning a 6-5 win over Toledo again at The Vic in 2001.
INDY VS. COLUMBUS, OPENING DAY: The Indians and Clippers have met on Opening Day nine times since 1997. Indy is just 3-6 against Columbus, including a 1-4 mark at Victory Field. Indy’s only win over Columbus at The Vic came in 2007 when the Tribe picked up a 6-1 victory behind five shutout innings from southpaw Sean Burnett.
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: Brian Esposito, announced as the 61st manager in franchise history in January 2018, is his sixth season of coaching and fifth as a manager in the Pirates farm system. He served as a player/coach for the Tribe under manager Dean Treanor in 2013, a squad that went 80-64 en route to a second straight IL West Division title. Esposito, 38, owns a career managerial record of 233-195 (.544). His best season came in 2015 with Low-A West Virginia, a team that went 87-52 (.626), good for the third-highest winning percentage among all full-season teams in Minor League Baseball.
FAMILIAR FACES: The Indians’ roster carries plenty of familiar faces into the first homestand. Thirteen players (four pitchers, nine position players) return from the 2017 division championship team. Returning pitchers include tonight’s starter Nick Kingham, along with Tyler Eppler, Brett McKinney, and Casey Sadler. Catcher Jacob Stallings and infielders Max Moroff, Kevin Newman, Jose Osuna, Erich Weiss and Eric Wood also return. In the outfield, 2017 Team MVP Christopher Bostick is joined by Pirates 2017 MiLB Player of the Year Jordan Luplow and Austin Meadows, the No. 2 prospect in Pittsburgh’s farm system according to Baseball America.
THE NEW GUYS: Twelve of Indy’s 25 active players are new to Indianapolis. Pitchers Tanner Anderson, Austin Coley, and Alex McRae all will get their first taste of Triple-A, with each having played a prominent role in Double-A Altoona’s run to the 2017 Eastern League title. New pitchers already with Triple-A experience include Kyle Crick, Johnny Hellweg, Tyler Jones, Damien Magnifico and Richard Rodriguez. Just four position players are new to Indy, including infielders Kevin Kramer and Jerrick Suiter who spent most of their 2017 seasons in Altoona. Veteran catcher Ryan Lavarnway and 29-year-old outfielder Todd Cunningham finish out the roster.
SOURCE: Indianapolis Indians