HOUSTON -- The green beams on the Minute Maid Park roof closely matched the green jerseys worn by the Oakland A’s on Sunday, and maybe that explains things. Or not.
Whatever the case, the intense thunderstorms that rolled through the Bayou City on Sunday afternoon and forced the retractable roof to be closed in the series finale against the A’s twice provided a helping hand to Oakland hitters. The Astros still won the game, 9-8, on a walk-off walk by Jose Altuve.
In the first inning, A’s first baseman Chad Pinder hit a high fly ball to left field that eventually dropped to the ground next to Astros left-fielder Michael Brantley, who was near the wall, for a two-run double. The ball struck a beam in fair territory, which means the ball was in play.
“It felt [like] it was bad luck he couldn’t catch it [but] we were pretty lucky it didn’t drop into the Crawford Boxes for a homer,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “He can play the ball if it strikes fair. You only see one or two balls hit that rail any given year. It’s a weird play.”
Brantley thought it was a foul ball and said it struck the left-field wall on the way down before hitting the ground.
“I was trotting over there and gave it a look and I seen the ricochet and obviously it came back and hit the wall and the ball’s in play,” he said. “Balls that go up that way I’ve got to go over and be ready again. I don’t ever want to get caught off guard.”
Pinder knew the ground rules so well that he understood if a ball hits the beam along the third-base line that’s in fair territory and the ball is live.
“You never know,” said Pinder. “This is their home field, so anytime they’re disputing something, you question. I asked [Astros second baseman] Altuve and [second base umpire] Quinn [Wolcott] what they thought. They said it was a double.”
In the second inning, A’s third baseman Matt Chapman hit a foul pop to third base that struck the roof and was caught in foul territory by Alex Bregman. The umpires correctly ruled it a foul ball, and Chapman proceeded to reach on an error by shortstop Carlos Correa.
Minute Maid Park ground rules dictate any ball that hits the roof in foul territory is a foul ball, while any ball that hits the roof in fair territory is a live ball. The umpires got both calls correct, but the Astros were left wondering when the roof was going to provide them a break -- other than protecting them from the weather.