Detroit's speedster, who had already advanced to second on a passed ball by Norris, raced to third on the catcher's throw back to Abad, who was seen looking into his glove for more than a second before realizing the scene behind him.
Davis scored on the next play, a ground-ball forceout, giving the Tigers their winning run.
"I think, somehow, if he had heard something, someone yelling, even though it's loud and you're not always cognizant of voices going on," said Norris, "100 percent I think if he caught the ball and fired it to third base, he would've been out.
"I released the ball, and he took off, and by that point, [Abad] was just frustrated he couldn't throw strikes, and just smart baserunning. Thinking back, if I could play it all over again, I would've pump-faked, but I didn't feel like I lobbed the ball back, I didn't feel like I took my sweet time. I just caught the ball and, same as I always do, threw it back to the pitcher. He had obviously been watching, and he was aggressive and made a good baserunning play and got to third."
Abad, though, said Norris threw the ball "so slow."
"When I started hearing everyone, he was already starting to slide toward the base," Abad said. "Maybe I had a chance to get him out. I wasn't paying attention to him, that's why he took the lead and stole the base. He's fast. Even if I throw it, it's a tough play."
Manager Bob Melvin played the role of mediator.
"It would've been close," Melvin said. "Catcher and pitcher need to be a bit more aware of the situation. But it was a risk, and [Davis] was rewarded for it."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com.