The Houston Astros are officially out of the postseason. With Boston’s win Thursday night in Game 5, the Red Sox are on their way to the World Series. But could it have gone differently? Or rather, should it have? Game 4 did produce quite the controversial moment, after all. The momentum of Wednesday’s ALCS Game would shift after a controversial call in the first inning.
What did appear to be a home run by José Altuve was, in fact, not. A fan was called for interference during the Altuve AB on a ball that Mookie Betts leaped to catch. Astros fans and the organization alike were unhappy with the call during Wednesday’s game. Many people said the call may have changed the game — or at least created a shift in momentum.
Though for what it’s worth, Astros’ manager AJ Hinch admitted postgame that he accepted Joe West’s call.
“What did I see? I saw fan interference,” Hinch said via 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. But 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 didn’t blame the loss on the controversial decision either. And how could he? The incident happened in the first inning with plenty of game left to play. If it weren’t for Andrew Benintendi’s sliding catch in the 9th inning, maybe the Astros would’ve walked off. Hinch knew it, too.
“It’s convenient to think about it that way. But there’s a lot of game left,” Hinch said. “There was a lot of action in that game. …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.”
The umpire, Joe West, stood by his game-changing decision and said that the replay official agreed with his call. There was no evidence to overturn the initial call.
“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.
Not everyone was happy to accept the call, though. Astros outfielder Josh Reddick expressed his frustration in a postgame interview.
“I’m pissed off, we’re all pissed off,” Reddick told USA Today. “That’s the best way to describe it. Frustration, and beyond that, to being pissed off because it would have made a big difference.”
The Astros, who lost the game 8-6, then found themselves fighting for the chance to stay alive in the ALCS. But on Thursday night, the Red Sox won 4-1 and punched their ticket to the World Series.