Astros lose home run on controversial fan interference

USA TODAY

Published 10:03 PM EDT Oct 17, 2018

Astros lose home run on controversial fan interference

A potentially pivotal play in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series turned what could have been a game-tying home run into a routine fly ball out. All because fans in the front row of the right field seats tried to grab themselves a souvenir.

With the Boston Red Sox scoring twice in the top of the first inning, the homestanding Houston Astros appeared to counter with a runner on base and 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve at the plate.

Altuve connected, but Boston's Gold Glove right fielder, Mookie Betts, leaped high above the seven-foot outfield wall into a sea of hands.

The ball hit off someone's hands and ricocheted back into the field of play, but right field umpire and crew chief Joe West ruled the fans interfered with Betts' opportunity to make the catch. 

Therefore, Altuve was out. 

Under baseball Rule 6.01 (e): "No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out onto the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator's interference." 

Since it was a boundary call, the play automatically triggered a replay review. However, MLB replay officials could not make a conclusive determination where the ball was at the time. 

The call on the field stood. The Astros' rally fizzled. And the fans were incensed.

Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner

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