A hilariously bad call briefly kept the Cubs alive on Opening Day

For a fleeting moment, it looked like Chicago was going to steal a season-opening win from the defending World Series champions.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Before pinch hitter Travis Jankowski, the proud owner of 10 career home runs heading into Opening Day 2024, took Chicago Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay deep, setting up the Texas Rangers' extra-inning win, it looked - at least for a fleeting moment - that Chicago would quite literally steal a victory to start the season.

With men at first and second and two out in the top of the ninth, Miles Mastrobuoni faced an 0-1 count. Texas reliever Jose Leclerc delivered a change-up low in the zone, Mastrobuoni swung and missed and the ball got away from catcher Jonah Heim. Or, at least, that's how home plate umpire Chad Fairchild saw it.

Michael Busch came close to playing hero for the Cubs on Opening Day

Cubs rookie first baseman Michael Busch, the runner on second, showed no hesitation, taking off for third and, as he approached the bag, he saw that Heim still hadn't recovered the ball and took off for home, sliding in under the tag from Leclerc to put Chicago up 3-2.

There was just one big problem here. Mastrobuoni hadn't swung and missed. He foul-tipped the ball, which was clearly shown on multiple replay angles, hence Heim not showing a whole lot of urgency in recovering the ball. The Rangers catcher pleaded his case with Fairchild but to no avail. The play was not reviewable and the Cubs maintained their lead heading into the bottom of the frame.

Of course, things didn't go as planned for Chicago from there. Adbert Alzolay coughed up the game-tying shot to Jankowski and, in typical baseball karma, it was Heim who delivered the game-winner off Drew Smyly in the tenth. But for that brief moment, it looked like Busch was about save the Cubs on a night overshadowed by the loss of Justin Steele.

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