In the sixth inning of a 1-1 ballgame, with runners on second and third and one out, Omar Infante hit a line drive to Kinsler. He made the easy catch, then wheeled and threw to second in an attempt to nab a wandering Eric Hosmer.
But his toss sailed past shortstop Eugenio Suarez, and Salvador Perez, occupying third base at the time, raced home to score.
It appeared Kansas City had taken a 2-1 advantage, and the crowd reacted accordingly, loudly celebrating the team's first lead in the pivotal three-game series.
While Kauffman Stadium rejoiced, the unlikeliest of Tigers was plotting his act of heroism. Hernan Perez, a September callup, tipped the team off to the fact that Salvador Perez never tagged from third base. He started to go back to third, but when the ball got away, he turned and headed home.
"I have to give credit where credit's due. Hernan Perez was the guy who initially noticed it, sitting on the bench and watching the game," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Detroit tried an appeal play at third, but third-base umpire and crew chief Larry Vanover made the safe call.
Ausmus went out to ask Vanover whether he could challenge the ruling. Vanover recounted how the conversation with Ausmus went.
"Ausmus comes out and wants to challenge the play, that he didn't tag up. And I said, 'OK, I'm like 90 percent that retagging on a line drive or a fly ball is not a reviewable play.' And he said, 'Well, what's the difference between missing a base and tagging up? It's the same thing.' I said, 'Well, I see your point, but my understanding, the rules state tagging up, you can't review that.' And he says, 'Well, can you check? Can you check and make sure? Because the guy didn't tag up."
Ausmus described the basis of his argument.
"This wasn't a case where you're challenging whether a guy left early or not. This is basically a missed base, and missed bases are challengeable."
Vanover acceded to Ausmus' request, but when Vanover donned the headset that gave him an ear to replay officials in New York, he heard what he was expecting.
"I said, 'I need to know whether tagging up on a line drive is reviewable or not reviewable' and they came back with the answer that it's not a reviewable play," Vanover said.
Still, at this point, Vanover and the other three umpires -- Angel Hernandez, Paul Nauert and Vic Carapazza -- conferred and "took a consensus of the information," which led them to the conclusion that Perez never retouched third.
"Perez started back, but he didn't touch the bag. So at that point we overturned the call, and that's when I went to the middle of the infield, signaled the guy out and waved off the runner," Vanover said.
Royals manager Ned Yost, who said he did not plan on protesting the game because it was a judgment call, trotted out of the dugout to discuss the reversal.
"I ran out and said, 'What's the basis for this?' And he just said it's the umpire's judgment that he did not tag. I said, 'Well, which umpire? I want to know which umpire's judgment it was that said he didn't tag because obviously you got it wrong, you didn't see it. You called him safe.' He said, 'That's our judgment.'"
And, according to the player at the center of the dispute, that judgment was correct.
"I think everything was too fast for me," Perez said. "When Kinsler caught the ball, I came back to the base and he threw the ball to Suarez, and he missed. ... I never thought about tagging, only if [the throw] came toward the base I'd put my foot on the base. But as soon as he dropped it, I just want to score for the team and that's what I did, go to home plate."
The run was taken off the board, and the inning ended promptly, with the score still deadlocked at 1. In the next half inning, Detroit took the lead with a pair of runs.
"I don't envy the umpires' position there, because if it's not challengeable, 45,000 people know what the right call is, including all the umpires and both teams," Ausmus said. "It's not an enviable position to be in, but ultimately, the goal is to get the call right. And they got the call right."