Did fans interfere with Victor Martinez's home run?
Share This Post

The Tigers defeated the A's in Game 4 of the 2013 ALDS 8-6, thanks in part to Victor Martinez's home run, shrouded in controversy.

[RECAP: Tigers 8, A's 6]

After the A's claimed a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh inning, Martinez welcomed relief pitcher Sean Doolittle into the game with a blast to right. Gold Glove right fielder Josh Reddick appeared to have the ball in his sights and lept at the wall to make the play. But the ball never reached his glove, as a pair of Tigers fans leaned over the railing and made contact with the ball. Here's a look at the play in question:

It's a complex play, as the action occurs beyond the wall -- which contains the players and field of play -- and before the fence -- which contains the fans and bleachers. Here's a refresher from the MLB rule book:

Official Rules: 3.00 Game Preliminaries

Rule 3.16
When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

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.

Here's what the important parties are saying in the aftermath:

A's right fielder Josh Reddick:

"I have no doubt I was going to catch that ball. When I looked at the replay, that's what I thought. It's totally frustrating that a fan can influence the game."

Umpire crew chief Gary Darling:

"It was clear he was not going to catch the ball, so it was clearly going to be a home run. There wasn't any other evidence on replay to turn it another way."