The other big topic of conversation before Game 4 was the announcement by Major League Baseball that it had concluded an investigation — with no penalty — into whether the Astros had tried to steal signs against the Red Sox in Game 1 at Fenway Park, prompting discussion about whether Houston uses special cameras at Minute Maid Park to steal other teams’ signs, which the Astros deny.
It was a messy distraction, but once the game got rolling it was largely forgotten amid the controversial non-home run call and another offensive onslaught from the Red Sox, who became the first team to score eight runs in consecutive games at Minute Maid Park this year.
In the bottom of the first, Altuve lifted a long fly ball off Boston’s starter, Rick Porcello, with George Springer on first base. As the ball soared to deep right field, Betts jumped for the ball. His arm rose above the wall and his glove made contact with the hand of a fan who was also reaching for the ball, closing Betts’s glove and preventing him from making the catch.
The ball bounced back into the field, but West immediately called Altuve out for fan interference. Altuve threw up his hands at second base, and the Astros requested a video replay review, hoping for a reversal of fortune that would tie the score, or at least put the runners at second and third. If replays clearly showed that Betts had reached beyond the wall into the seating area, it would not have been interference.
“The spectator reached out of the stands and hit him over the playing field and closed his glove,” West told a pool reporter.
According to Rule 6.01(e) of Major League Baseball’s rule book, “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 on 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.”
After a delay of three minutes and 13 seconds, during which the fans chanted “Home run” over and over, the initial ruling was confirmed. Altuve was out and Springer had to go back to first. Houston did not score in that inning.