Two Home Run Controversies in One Inning Between Yankees, Rangers
With one out and the game still scoreless, Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano lofted a pitch from Texas starter Tommy Hunter just barely over the right-field wall.
Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz jumped for the ball, and while he didn't touch it, he seemed to argue that he'd been denied a chance to get the ball which was touched by fans just inches from his glove.
The bleacher bums were so close to the play that one made hand contact with Cruz's glove briefly before the outfielder came back down to earth.
Texas manager Ron Washington came out to argue and to see if the umpires would look at a replay of the homer. They didn't, because -- as right field umpire Jim Reynolds told a pool reporter following the game -- he didn't think the fans got to the ball before it crossed the wall.
"From the angle I had, I was very confident that the ball was in the stands," Reynolds said.
Moments later, the cameras did come into play. Two batters later, Lance Berkman hit a towering shot down the right field line, a ball that was called fair but which appeared on first glance to have gone foul.
The umpires got together to watch video of this one. The evidence was clear, and the call was reversed. Berkman wound up striking out against Hunter.
"In that situation, I wasn't confident of what I had," said Reynolds, "and we got together and we went to replay."
The Cano homer was allowed under baseball Rule 3.16, which says in part "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 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."
Replays showed that the fans were not reaching onto the field of play and that Cruz was reaching into the stands, and doing so "at his own risk."
And in that way there was no similarity relationship to the infamous Jeffrey Maier play in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between the Yankees and Orioles. Maier, then a 12-year-old Yankee fan, reached out of the stands and deflected a ball hit by Derek Jeter that was in play into the stands and away from outfielder Tony Tarasco.
Jeter was credited with a game-tying homer in the eighth inning, and New York, which had been trailing 4-3, went on to win the game, the series and, eventually a World Series title.
The fan who reached over the wall toward Cruz told the Star-Ledger he didn't interfere.
"It was definitely a home run," said 20-year-old Jared Macchirole of Queens. "It hit the cement before he got to it. I didn't touch it."
Agreeing with Macchirole's opinion was Maier himself, who told Newsday, "I definitely think it would've held up as a home run" under review. Maier, incidentally, told the paper he was watching the game from a bar at LaGuardia airport.