Des Moines, IA - The Memphis Redbirds (1-0) scored three runs in the first inning and added five more in the ninth and beat the Iowa Cubs (0-1) 10-2 Thursday on a cold, foggy Opening Night at Principal Park in the earliest home opener in franchise history.
Chris Rusin got his second straight Opening Day start for Iowa and got knocked around early, giving up two towering home runs in the opening frame. Randal Grichuk (3-for-4, 3 RBI) hit a solo home run to left field in his first triple-A at-bat and three batters later Scott Moore (2-for-5, 3 RBI) hit a two-run homer to right field.
Rusin got chased from the game in the fourth inning when the Redbirds tacked two runs onto their lead on two-out RBI hits from Grichuk and Oscar Taveras - St. Louis' top overall prospect. Rusin allowed five earned runs on six hits and four walks over 3.2 innings.
Yoanner Negrin relieved Rusin and threw an impressive 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out four.
The Redbirds touched up Casey Coleman for four earned runs on four hits in the last frame, before Marcus Hately came on to retire the side, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.
Leftfielder Josh Vitters provided the Cubs with their first run of the season, capping off an impressive 11-pitch at-bat with a long solo home run to right field in the third inning. Vitters finished the night 2-for-4.
Four of the organization's top prospects made their triple-A debuts. Shortstop Javier Baez, the Cubs top overall prospect and a consensus top seven player in all of minor league baseball, went 0-for-3 with a walk. Second basemen Arismendy Alcantara, ranked as the Cubs' seventh-best prospect by Baseball America, went 1-for-4 with a double. The Cubs' 13th-best prospect, third basemen Christian Villanueva, went 2-for-4 with a double. Center fielder Matt Szczur, the No. 26 prospect, went 0-for-5 with an RBI groundout in the ninth inning.
The I-Cubs continue a four-game series with the Redbirds Friday evening with the first pitch at Principal Park scheduled for 7:05. Right-hander Carlos Pimentel will make his Iowa debut against Memphis right-hander Angel Castro. The game will be broadcast live on AM 940 and streamed at iowacubs.com with the pre-game show starting at 6:45.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.