Nine outs. Three more defensive innings and the A’s would have been to their first ALCS since 2006. 4-3 was the score and the series stood 2-1 in the A’s favor. Nine outs and the A’s magical season would have continued against the equally intriguing Boston Red Sox. Then it all changed with one swing of the bat on a pitch from the dominant left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle. Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, who earlier in the series had stirred up some drama with closer Grant Balfour ultimately culminating in empty benches, hit a drive deep to left field. Josh Reddick, the A’s gold glove winning right fielder got a good jump and ran straight to the wall. Once Reddick arrived at the wall he leapt…
It was at that moment that a Tigers fan leaned over the right field wall at the precise moment Reddick leapt, palms open, looking to snag a souvenir before anyone else around him could. And that’s where the infamous fan interference that never was occurred. Five feet above the top of the right field wall at Comerica Park in Detroit. The anti-Steve Bartman.
Reddick screamed at the top of his lungs for fan interference. After a lengthy conversation, the umpire crew decided to review the play. Camera angles never fully showed how far over the wall the fan was and no one will ever know if Reddick would have caught it (however he disagrees with that statement). The call on the field was a home run and since the camera angles were not conclusive enough the call stood. The Tigers tied the game at 4 and never looked back.
That moment changed the whole dynamic of the series. Any momentum the A’s had was stole from them literally by a fan in right field. Every A’s fan knew they had to win Game 4 with Justin Verlander lurking for a Game 5 in Oakland. The Tigers jumped out to an 8-4 lead over the next two innings and regardless of the two runs scored in the top of the ninth inning the Tigers were poised to win another series against the A’s. And that is exactly what they did in Game 5.
Justin Verlander took control and never looked back. Even with a chance to tie the game in the ninth inning again in Game 5 the series was over after Game 4. As a fan you couldn’t look at it like that at the time, but looking back you knew subconsciously Game 4 was the time to take control for the A’s and they let it slip. Sure there were many points during the series in which the A’s struggled (I’m looking at you strikeouts). In the end none of it stung quite as much as that one play. That one image of Reddick leaping up over the wall, glove opened, waiting to snag a home run away and the Tigers hopes of forcing a Game 5. That image will last until February. Here’s to looking forward to a fresh star. Only four more months until Spring Training.