You don't see this called very often, but a textbook example of Major League Baseball's "spectator interference" rule worked out in the Arizona Diamondbacks' favor on Sunday.
In the bottom of the fifth inning of Sunday's game between the Diamondbacks and Padres in San Diego, Padres first baseman Will Myers took the plate with two outs and the bases loaded, with a chance to help San Diego expand its 3-1 lead.
Myers hit a ball of D-backs pitcher Zack Godley down the right field line. It was ultimately caught by a Padres fan in foul territory.
The only problem: The fan clearly reached over the railing in right field to catch the ball, preventing the D-backs' Chris Owings from making a play. As a result, Myers was ruled out, and the inning ended.
Fan interference in the D-backs' favor. pic.twitter.com/1M44PTEpSg
— Shane Dale (@ShaneDaleABC15) May 21, 2017
According to the MLB rule book:
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.
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.
It's difficult to argue that Owings would have caught the ball had the fan not reached over with his glove. But since that action prevented Owings from having any opportunity to catch the ball, Myers was correctly ruled out.
So, did this play help the D-backs rally and win the game?
Well... no. The Padres added two more runs in the eighth inning to beat the D-backs 5-1, ending Arizona's five-game winning streak. The D-backs will look to begin another winning streak when they return home Monday to face the Chicago White Sox in the first of a three-game series.