With one out, the bases loaded and a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers set their infield to double-play depth. And they got what they wanted, or so it seemed, when the Rays' next hitter, Logan Morrison, grounded to second base for what looked to be a textbook double play.
But instead of everything going smoothly, Iglesias tripped over the bag and his throw went wild to first, allowing two runs to score and giving the Rays the victory. Adding injury to insult, Iglesias was struck in the side of his head by Brad Miller's knee as Miller slid.
Iglesias collides with Miller DET@TB: Iglesias shaken up on collision with MillerJose Iglesias takes a knee to the head on his errant throw to first base and is slow to get up after the collision
"I'm about halfway there, and he falls right in front of me," Miller said. "And I saw my knee go into him pretty good. And then some chaos ensued."
The whole series of events, which also included an intentional walk, an epic nine-pitch battle, and the ejection of Rays manager Kevin Cash, began when Tigers manager Brad Ausmus handed the ball to Francisco Rodriguez to start the inning. He was hoping that the team's closer could protect a 7-6 lead.
That proposition drew immediate doubt when Rodriguez walked the leadoff batter, Kevin Kiermaier.
"I was thinking about bunting there, just because I wasn't sure what he was going to throw me," Kiermaier said. "I know he throws a heater, a changeup and a curveball, so I was going to give myself a chance to just get on base and maybe try and steal one there."
Kiermaier settled for a free pass, which brought Evan Longoria to the plate. Longoria already had two hits and three RBIs on the night, and he wasn't done.
Longoria took the first pitch for ball one then connected on the second, sending a drive into right field that put him at second with a double while moving Kiermaier to third.
"Last couple of times I've been up there with a chance to help us either take the lead or further our chances, I've been really anxious and not seen the ball very well," Longoria said. "So I was just kind of thinking, 'Don't try and do too much. Stay up the middle.' The pitch actually beat me a little bit, but I got it on the barrel and it ended up down the line."
Peter Bourjos was inserted as a pinch-runner for Longoria before Miller was intentionally walked to load the bases for Steven Souza Jr. The Tigers drew in their infield and Souza struck out trying to check his swing on a 3-2 count.
The strikeout came at the end of a ferocious nine-pitch battle. Cash was ejected for arguing that Souza had checked his swing.
Cash gets ejected in 9th DET@TB: Cash tossed after arguing called third strikeKevin Cash gets ejected after disagreeing with a called third strike with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning
That set the stage for Morrison, and for a brief moment, it appeared the Tigers had escaped with a hard-fought win. But Iglesias lost his footing as he took the throw from second baseman Ian Kinsler, apparently tripping over second base, and his throw went far off course.
"I saw it was a ground ball," Rodriguez said. "I noticed the turn at second. I was on the right-field line, so I wasn't quite sure exactly what happened, whether he fell, or got run over, or hit. ... I feel bad for [Iglesias]."
Miller said he was just trying to "make sure I don't get any interference."
Miller called for someone to tend to Iglesias. The Rays respectfully cleared away from the area when it was evident Iglesias was hurt.
Bourjos, who scored the winning run, said he was watching the third-base coach when he rounded third.
"He waved me and then I kind of peeked to see what was going on, just to see where I might need to slide and I saw the ball kind of trickling past Miguel Cabrera at first," Bourjos said. "At that point, I still had no idea what happened, and then I saw the replay."
Ausmus called it an "odd play to end the game."
"Nine times out of 10 that's a double play that gets turned, but Iggy kind of hit second base awkwardly and fell," Ausmus said. "It was just one of those things."
When asked about what hurt most about the loss, Ausmus noted, "We want to make sure that Iglesias is OK.
"That's the primary focus right now," Ausmus said. "That's what we're thinking about."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.