MLB Opening Day 2024: Jonah Heim walks it off for Rangers after ump argument gaffe

The reigning champion Texas Rangers opened their season with a win. Catcher Jonah Heim was involved, to say the least.

The All-Star catcher opened the door for the Chicago Cubs to take a lead in the top of the ninth inning but ended up being the hero in extra innings of a 4-3 victory on his team's World Series banner night.

The drama began with Cubs pinch-hitter Miles Mastrobuoni facing Rangers closer José Leclerc with two outs and runners on first and second. Leclerc threw a low changeup that bounced past Heim, who believed Mastrobuoni had made contact with the ball while swinging.

Replay showed Heim to be right, but as he was arguing with home plate umpire Chad Fairchild, the Cubs' Michael Busch noticed the ball was still alive and unattended. He broke for home and scored to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead.

There's little doubt that Fairchild erred in calling the pitch a ball rather than a foul, but Busch wouldn't have scored if Heim had stuck with the play. The catcher admitted as much after the game.

"I take full responsibility for what happened," he said. "I should have finished the play. That's all on me."

Fortunately for both Heim and Fairchild, Rangers pinch-hitter Travis Jankowski did this to lead off the bottom of the ninth:

The speedy Jankowski hit one home run all of last season. He had one career extra-base hit, a double, in 87 career pinch-hit appearances.

The game proceeded to extra innings, where the Rangers escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th thanks to a double-play off a line drive. The roles were reversed in the bottom of the 10th, when Heim came through for a walk-off hit with the bases loaded and two outs.

Heim was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts before that hit. The 28-year-old is coming off a breakout season during the Rangers' championship run, in which he hit .258/.317/.438 with 18 homers while earning Gold Glove honors behind the plate.