HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve was denied a potential two-run homer for the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series when umpires ruled at least one fan interfered with Mookie Betts’ attempt at a leaping catch above the right-field wall Wednesday night.
Crew chief Joe West, working the right-field line at Minute Maid Park, signaled fan interference after the Boston Red Sox outfielder was unable to make the grab and the ball ricocheted back onto the field.
The call stood after a replay review that lasted 3 minutes, 13 seconds. Altuve was ruled out and teammate George Springer was sent back to first base.
A fan wearing an orange Astros jersey, who identified himself as Troy Caldwell, insisted he wasn’t reaching out over the yellow line atop the 7-foot-high fence when the ball hit his hand.
“That ball was gone no matter what,” said Caldwell, a lifelong Astros fan from Houston who now lives in Atlanta.
While Betts didn’t say anything to the fans, Caldwell said he immediately started getting texts that he had cost Altuve and the Astros a home run.
“As long as the Astros come back and win this we’ll be all right,” Caldwell said. “Otherwise, I need security to escort me out of this place so I don’t get attacked.”
A home run by Altuve would have tied the score at 2 in the first inning. Boston leads 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Betts jumped and it appeared that fans reaching for the ball made contact with his glove as he extended it above the wall. The ball then glanced off the side of Betts’ glove and touched fans trying to get it.
Altuve had both hands on his helmet in disbelief while standing on second base, where he stopped when the play ended. Astros manager AJ Hinch went out to discuss the situation with West, who had a brief consultation with the rest of the six-man umpire crew before the play was reviewed.
“He just said that there was fan interference on the field and my argument was more about the fact that the ball was leaving the yard, the trajectory was there,” Hinch said during an in-game interview on TBS. “Jose paid the ultimate price for something out of his control. I’m not sure if Mookie makes that catch, a great athlete, but how it’s an assumed out is unbelievable.”
Boston took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run single by Rafael Devers.
The Astros tied the game at 3 in the third. Springer homered before Altuve doubled high off the left-field wall and scored on a single by Josh Reddick.
Tony Kemp homered in the fourth to put Houston ahead 4-3.