Things could have gone much differently for the Houston Astros on Wednesday night had Jose Altuve been credited with a first-inning home run. Instead, a fan was called for interference on the ball when Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts leaped to attempt an incredible catch.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch admitted postgame that he accepts umpire Joe West's assessment of interference. He still challenged it, though, because he thought the trajectory of the ball was taking it out of the ballpark and was unsure if Betts would be able to make a play.
"What did I see? I saw fan interference," Hinch said, according to ASAP Sports. "I've had this a couple of times, or we have as a team. And they deemed the fan reached over into the field of play and interfered with Betts.
"And Jose pays the biggest price because the trajectory of the ball looked like it was going to leave the ballpark. But we assume - and you can assume a lot with Mookie because he's an incredible athlete - we assume he's going to make this spectacular catch jumping as high as he can into the crowd. ... Once the fan reaches past that line of the fence, I mean, we're going to penalize hitters every time."
Hinch wasn't about to blame the controversial call for his team's inability to get the much-needed victory.
"That doesn't matter. It's convenient to think about it that way. But there's a lot of game left," he added. "There was a lot of action in that game. No, I'm not going to go there. But it would have been nice to tie the game at that point. But that's not the difference. That's not how the game plays."
West ruled it fan interference from the beginning, and he stuck to his guns postgame.
"Here's the whole play. He hit the ball to right field. He jumped up to try to make a catch. The fan interfered with him over the playing field. That's why I called spectator interference," West said.
The umpire added that the replay official agreed with his assessment and that there was no video evidence that could overturn the play.
Betts, for his part, was confident in his ability to reach the ball.
"I was 100 percent positive I was going to catch that," Betts said, according to Chad Finn of the Boston Globe.
With their backs against the wall, the Astros will get a shot at climbing back in the American League Championship Series in Game 5 on Thursday.