The Houston Astros were knocked out of the ALCS in five games by the Boston Red Sox, but it’s fair to say a lot of players on the losing team feel that things could have and should have been a lot closer.
The most controversial play of the series came in the first inning of Game 4, when a potential game-tying Jose Altuve home run was ruled an out by umpire Joe West, citing fan interference. The call was upheld on replay review due to a lack of evidence to overturn.
That call was still a focus on Friday, a day after the Astros were eliminated, with West further defending his call on the field.
Joe West, crew chief for ALCS, confident that the interference call was correct because no replay showed RF Mookie Betts’ body every touching the outfield wall
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 19, 2018
That explanation still didn’t sit well with Astros reliever Lance McCullers, who responded to that tweet with a bit of ironic, bitter laughter.
— Lance McCullers Jr. (@LMcCullers43) October 19, 2018
The point of contention here is whether Betts’s glove was over the fence and in the crowd when trying to catch the ball. If it wasn’t, as West clearly believes, the right call was made on the field. If it was, as the Astros would contend, fan interference doesn’t apply and it should have been ruled a home run. Ultimately, there was no clear camera angle to settle things one way or the other. Had West called it a home run on the field, video replay likely would have upheld that decision too.
Did the Astros lose the series solely because of that call? Absolutely not. A major factor was their bullpen’s inability to keep it close and stop the Red Sox from putting up more add-on runs. That said, it was such a huge moment in the series that this, coupled with some other close calls that went against Houston, will leave the Astros and their fans thinking things could have been very different had they gotten a few breaks.