KANSAS CITY -- From start to finish, this drama was full of unexpected twists and turns. Justin Verlander giving up seven runs in the first two innings. The outcome depending on a video replay in the ninth inning.
When the final curtain fell, it was the Royals who held a 9-8 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium, thanks to a clutch tie-breaking double by heretofore slumping Mike Moustakas.
First, let's go to the end.
Top of the eighth, Jhonny Peralta slammed a home run off Aaron Crow to give the Tigers an 8-8 tie. Bottom half, Billy Butler singled, pinch-runner Lorenzo Cain swiped second and there were two outs.
At this point the Tigers brought in Phil Coke, a tough left-hander, to face the left-handed Moustakas. Sure, Moose had a two-run single off Verlander in the first inning, but he'd been struggling.
"Struggling, yeah," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He got one hit this last whole road trip [1-for-23] but he made some adjustments. He came in early today and worked in the cage on some things."
Moustakas rifled a double down the right-field line to score Cain and the Royals had a one-run lead.
"You want to be up in those situations against a tough lefty with the game on the line, and I got a good slider to hit and was able to stay on it and hook it down the line," Moustakas said.
So closer Greg Holland was brought in for the Tigers' ninth and began by walking Austin Jackson, who stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Meantime, Holland got two outs and the Royals intentionally walked Prince Fielder to bring up Delmon Young.
"I wasn't going to let Prince tie that game right there. ... I was just going to take my chances with Young," said Yost, who managed Fielder at Milwaukee. "Everybody agreed and I no more got in the dugout and said, 'I hope this works,' and boom!"
Young hit a high shot that curved past the right-field pole and first-base umpire Ted Barrett called it a foul ball. The Tigers wanted a three-run homer that would have put them ahead and manager Jim Leyland came out to inquire. Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur was a close eyewitness.
"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."
The umpires conferred briefly and went under the stands to view a video replay. They emerged to signal a foul ball. Young went back to the plate and flied out, ending the game.
"If they would have called it fair, I was straight George Brett, running in and going ape," Francoeur said.
Yost didn't get a good view and left the dugout to check a video replay himself.
"I know what I saw and I'm fixin' to get myself thrown out if they say it's a home run, because I know it's foul," Yost said.
No need for tantrums, though. Even Leyland agreed the call was correct.
"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."
The biggest surprise for the 13,601 fans was that the Royals scored eight runs off Verlander, seven of them in the first two innings.
Verlander always had been dominant against the Royals (14-2, 2.36 ERA) and at Kauffman (9-2, 1.83 ERA). Not counting the All-Star Game, of course.
Oh, yes, the All-Star Game. This was Verlander's first appearance at Kauffman since his All-Star start for the American League on July 10, the night he gave up five runs in the first inning in the National League's 8-0 romp.
Now here were the Royals hammering away. Three runs and four hits, including Moustakas' two-run single, in the first inning. Four runs and six hits, including Alex Gordon's two-run double, in the second.
But the Tigers were doing some work against Royals right-hander Luis Mendoza, too, and the Royals' lead was just 7-6 after three innings. He gave up a two-run homer to Young and a two-run double to Fielder.
"Verlander gives up seven, Mendy gives up six -- three in the first and three in the third -- but he kind of settled in and got us six more out which was big at the end of the game for our bullpen," Yost said. "He did a nice job of getting us through the fifth inning with a lead -- even though it was a one-run lead. From that point on, the bullpen took over and did a darn, nice job."
Verlander lasted into the sixth inning when Salvador Perez's two-out RBI double got him out the game.
The Royals shrugged off any notion of an All-Star Game carryover for Verlander.
"He's pitched better in this ballpark than, I think, any other ballpark so that has nothing to do with it," Butler said. "He had his normal stuff today."
The rare difference was that the Royals hit his stuff this time. The eight runs were the most Verlander allowed since April 6, 2009, and the 12 hits were the most since Aug. 11, 2006.
And the eight runs that the Tigers scored just weren't enough.
"When you score that amount of runs with Verlander on the mound," Leyland said, "you figure you're going to win the game, but that didn't happen."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.