MLB: Rangers open title defense with walk-off win vs. Cubs in 10th

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Jonah Heim redeemed himself for a mental miscue by delivering a walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning, lifting the Texas Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the season opener on Thursday in Arlington, Texas.

Inherited runner Marcus Semien advanced to third base on a groundout in the 10th inning, and Drew Smyly (0-1) walked the bases loaded. Smyly got another grounder that resulted in a forceout of Semien at the plate, but Heim deposited the ball into center field to end the game. David Robertson (1-0) worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th to pick up the win.

Chicago seized a 3-2 lead in controversial fashion in the ninth inning, as Michael Busch scored from second base on a wild pitch. Replays, however, showed that pinch hitter Miles Mastrobuoni made contact with a pitch by Jose Leclerc, and Busch alertly scampered home after Rangers catcher Heim did not immediately chase after the ball.

Texas’ Travis Jankowski belted a pinch-hit homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Adolis Garcia launched a solo shot in the sixth inning among his two hits. Rookie Wyatt Langford had a sacrifice fly and an infield single in his MLB debut for the Rangers, who unfurled their 2023 World Series championship banner before the game.

Chicago’s Christopher Morel had a triple among his two hits and scored the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Dansby Swanson in the second. Cody Bellinger added an RBI double in the sixth for the Cubs, who saw ace left-hander Justin Steele exit the game in the fifth with tightness in his left hamstring.

Steele immediately clutched at the back of his left leg after fielding a bunt by Leody Taveras and backhanding the ball to first baseman Busch. Steele, who tossed 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball with three hits, one walk and six strikeouts, remained on the field before getting up and walking off with manager Craig Counsell by his side.

Jankowski forged the tie after depositing a 3-2 slider from Adbert Alzolay over the wall in right field.

Seiya Suzuki belted a two-out double to left field in the sixth and scored on Bellinger’s double to right to regain the advantage for the Cubs at 2-1.

That lead was short-lived, however, as Garcia capped an eight-pitch at-bat by depositing an offering from Yency Almonte over the wall in left field in the sixth. Garcia punctuated his first homer of the season with a bat flip.

Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi limited the Cubs to two runs over six innings, allowing four hits and a walk while whiffing three.

–Field Level Media

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