KANSAS CITY -- In a game that saw Justin Verlander surrender eight runs, of course the ending was going to be anything but ordinary.
The Tigers trailed 9-8 with runners on the corners and two outs in the ninth inning in Tuesday night's series opener with the Royals, as designated hitter Delmon Young hit a ball down the right-field line that landed just feet away from the foul pole. There wasn't much room separating foul ball from a go-ahead, three-run home run.
First-base umpire Ted Barrett ruled it was a foul ball, and Detroit manager Jim Leyland came out to protest. The umpires convened and decided to review the play. After a fairly lengthy review, the ruling stood: foul ball.
Young flew out to right field on the next pitch to end the game.
"Well it was a foul ball. It went before the pole, curved. It was definitely a foul ball," Leyland said. "The umpires, I really appreciate them looking at it. These games are huge, obviously, and they really did a good job of doing that. You can't ask them to do it. They did it on their own, and the right results came out of it. It was not a home run.
"It's funny how different eyes work different. Some guys thought it was definitely fair and other guys said it was foul. It actually curved before the pole and went foul, so it was definitely a foul ball."
Young said he had no idea whether the ball was fair or foul, as he was running at the time. He said he didn't look at it.
"That's what replay's for," Young said. "I couldn't tell."
The man giving chase, Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur, clearly saw it.
"I blew it foul there at the end," Francoeur said. "It was an inch, two inches. It was right there. The only thing that brought me comfort was that I was right there and saw it. I knew it wasn't fair.
"You know what, it's good that they did review, but I knew it just missed. I was just standing there, just looking at it and honestly I was just waiting to hear the 'dink' and when I didn't hear it, I was like, 'Thank God.'"
Francoeur had plans if the call was reversed, too.
"If they would have called it fair, I was straight George Brett, running in and going ape," said Francoeur, referring to the infamous Pine Tar Game.
Miggy returns to man hot corner against Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Miguel Cabrera was back at the hot corner for Tuesday's series opener against the Royals.
Cabrera, battling a sore right ankle, served as the team's designated hitter for the first two days of this past weekend's series against the Angels. Tigers manager Jim Leyland then gave the All-Star an off-day on Sunday with hopes of having him return for Tuesday's game.
"The trainers seem to think it was good timing for him," Leyland said. "Hopefully it was a good move. It was a good move, whether it worked or not."
Leyland said he expects the effects of the injury to go away and not continue to bother Cabrera for the rest of the season.
Considering Cabrera's success against Kansas City, it's a good time for the Tigers to get him back. In 81 career contests against the Royals, Cabrera is batting .333 with 21 doubles, 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. He ranks ninth among active players both in batting average and slugging percentage against the Royals.
Cabrera's been hot all season, but particularly so this month. In 22 games, Cabrera is hitting .338 with an OPS of 1.076. He's smashed seven home runs and driven in 21 runs in August.
Fister confident for start against White Sox
KANSAS CITY -- Though an official decision hasn't been made about whether Doug Fister will make his scheduled start on Friday, the right-hander is confident he'll pitch.
Fister threw a bullpen session on Tuesday as the Tigers prepared to open a series against the Royals. He's slated to pitch on Friday in the opener of an important series against the White Sox, but after skipping his last start with a groin injury, things are a bit up in the air.
"I think it's a kind of thing where I'll go home tonight and sleep on it, see how it feels tomorrow and make a decision tomorrow," Fister said.
Fister said he feels good and that he was happy with his bullpen session.
If Fister can't go, however, the task will fall to Drew Smyly, who filled in for Fister in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Angels. Smyly gave up three runs (one earned) on four hits in six innings. Manager Jim Leyland called him a safety valve, and even if he's not needed on Friday, he'll pitch in a bullpen role.
"We're lucky to have that guy in the wings," Leyland said. "He's done a good job up here. Particularly with the amount of professional experience he has, he's done very well. It's nice to have that safety valve, it'd be nice to have him in the bullpen."
"Just being here and being able to help the team out in anyway that they see me doing that, I'm all for it," Smyly said. "I'm just happy to be here -- starting or out of the bullpen -- I think I can help either way. It's better than being at Triple-A."
The lefty has made 16 starts for the Tigers this season, with Saturday's being his first since July 6. In two seasons in the Minor Leagues, Smyly has made just one relief appearance -- last season with Double-A Erie.
"I don't think it'll be too hard of a transition, just got to get your arm ready a little bit faster, get your mindset going a little better. My arm feels good. I'm looking forward to it," Smyly said.
Justin Henry, an infielder/outfielder with Triple-A Toledo, was named the International League Player of the Week for Aug. 20-26. In seven games, Henry hit .538 with four doubles and three RBIs.
In his first rehab appearance since being transferred to Triple-A Toledo, Daniel Schlereth pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout on Sunday against Louisville. Out since April 21 with left shoulder tendinitis, Schlereth started his rehab assignment on Aug. 3 with Class A Lakeland.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.