DETROIT A's right fielder Josh Reddick said he believed "100 percent" he would have had a play on Victor Martinez's game-tying home run in the seventh inning of Game 4 of the American League Division Series, had a fan not touched the ball first.
Martinez tied the score at 4-4 when he drove an outside fastball from reliever Sean Doolittle to right field. Reddick attempted a leaping catch at the wall, landed with nothing in his glove and immediately began pointing toward the fans beyond the railing.
Umpires ruled the play a home run on the field, then upheld the call after reviewing it at the request of A's manager Bob Melvin. Replays showed a fan reached over the railing that extends above the top of the wall and touched the ball, but that even without that contact the ball likely still would have landed above the yellow line designating a home run.
Reddick's frustration came from the fact he thought he could have caught the ball.
"I looked at it on the replay," he said, "and I had no doubt before I even looked that it was going into my glove."
Right-field umpire and crew chief Gary Darling disagreed in his explanation of the call.
"It was clear he was not going to catch the ball, so it was clearly going to be a home run," Darling told a pool reporter. "There wasn't any other evidence on replay to turn it another way."
Melvin said the crew's explanation to him for upholding the call "was (the ball) was over the yellow line and it wasn't fan interference, even though I guess a fan touched it."
The A's had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh against Tigers ace Max Scherzer, who had entered in relief, but saw that lead disappear on Martinez's homer. The Tigers then took a one-run lead in the inning when the next batter, Jhonny Peralta, doubled off Doolittle and his pinch runner, Andy Dirks, scored on Austin Jackson's broken-bat single.
"It changes the momentum for them, changes the momentum for us, and they seemed to feed off that and build it," Reddick said of the home run. "You can look at it as home-field advantage and it being absolutely frustrating that a fan can change the outcome of a game."
Center fielder Coco Crisp said that from his live view of the play he "felt like (Reddick) had a chance to possibly rob it." But having seen where the ball landed, he said he "pretty much knew that (overturning the play) wasn't going to happen."
"You got the fans there, they're going to reach out, and that plays into their favor," Crisp said. "It's unfortunate, it's the way the game goes. Just, you can't do nothing about it."
First baseman Brandon Moss said he initially thought Reddick had caught the ball, then realized what had happened when he saw Reddick's reaction.
"In that situation, if you're the umpire, I don't think you can overturn that," Moss said. "It's either a home run or an out. It's not a double."