Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (3/28/24): Rangers 4, Cubs 3 F/10 – Steele Injures Hamstring in Opening Day Loss

The Cubs began the 2024 season against the defending champion Rangers at Globe Life Park Thursday night. Chicago would eventually lose the back-and-forth affair in the 10th inning, but the bigger blow may have been an injury to their ace Justin Steele that forced him to leave the game.

The Cubs took the lead in the 2nd inning when Christopher Morel hit a hustle triple and came home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Dansby Swanson. The Rangers tied the game in the 4th when promising rookie Wyatt Langford hit his own sac fly.

Steele was injured fielding a dribbler in front of the mound hit by Leody Taveras in the 5th. Chicago’s ace made a backhand flip to first base to complete the out but fell to the ground grabbing his left leg with what was described after the game as left hamstring tightness.

Consecutive doubles by Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger against starter Nathan Eovaldi put the Cubs ahead 2-1 the following frame. Texas got that run back immediately when Adolis García took Yency Almonte deep to left for a no-doubt home run in the bottom of the inning.

The score remained even all the way up to the top of the 9th when Chicago took the lead on a very unusual play. Pinch-hitter Miles Mastrobuoni appeared to foul tip a pitch with runners on first and second and two out. The home plate umpire apparently did not see the tip and ruled it a live ball, allowing Michael Busch to come all the way around from second to score a go-ahead tally.

Unfortunately, the Cubs could not capitalize on their break when closer Adbert Alzolay surrendered a game-tying homer to Travis Jankowski to open the bottom of the 9th. Chicago stranded the bases loaded in the 10th and Jonah Heim hit a walk-off single against Drew Smyly to take the 4-3 victory. (Box score)

Key Moment

Morel crushed a pitch from David Robertson with the bases loaded in the top of the 10th. The ball went into the upper deck in left field but was just barely foul. The Cubs’ DH would eventually pop out to keep the score even at three.

Why the Cubs Lost

They had a late lead but just didn’t score enough to build a cushion on the explosive Rangers offense. Alzolay uncharacteristically gave up a home run, something he did not do very much in 2023.

Stats That Matter

  • Steele was pitching well before the injury: 4.2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 6 K, and 1 BB. Manager Craig Counsell said he expects his pitcher will have to go on the IL pending an MRI.
  • Busch looked very good at the plate with a single and two walks.
  • Morel put good swings on the ball all night with a single, in addition to his triple.

Bottom Line

Losing a game on the road to a team as good as the Rangers is not a big deal at all. An injury to Steele is a huge deal and will put significant strain on the Cubs’ rotation. The hope is he can be back relatively soon, but Chicago is going to have to weather the storm early with him out.

On Deck

Friday is an off day before game two of the series Saturday at 6:05pm CT. Kyle Hendricks faces left-hander Cody Bradford in a contest available on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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