Jon Jay's booming RBI triple in the fifth had given the Royals a 1-0 lead. And after starter Jason Hammel fired six shutout innings, and rookie left-handed reliever Tim Hill pitched a scoreless seventh, Hill walked Bradley Zimmer to lead off the eighth on four pitches. But at least two of the pitches appeared noticeably inside the strike zone, and that had several Royals pitchers groaning and shaking their head afterward.
"But what can you do?" Royals manager Ned Yost said of the calls.
Yost brought in reliever Justin Grimm. After a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt, Grimm got Jason Kipnis to roll a comebacker. Zimmer held at third base, but Grimm threw wildly to first baseman Whit Merrifield, and Kipnis was safe.
"The Kipnis ball kind of soured me a little bit," Grimm said. "The throw to first was unfortunate. That's my fault. It was right at [Merrifield] but then it brought him off the bag. ... I can make that play 10 plays out of 10."
With runners at the corners, Grimm then threw inside to Jose Ramirez, who tried to check his swing. The ball hit the bat and rolled down the third-base line. Grimm retrieved it and got the out at first -- which would have been the third out -- but Zimmer scored the tying run.
"The ball by Ramirez, I thought about going home, but that's how big innings happen," Grimm said. "Thought I'd get the out and keep us in the game. He couldn't have bunted it any better. Perfect placement ... We should have gotten a win."
Without the walk or the error by Grimm, the Royals could have taken a 1-0 lead to the bottom of the ninth with closer Kelvin Herrera coming on and potentially closing the game out.
"That run changed the whole complexion of the game," Yost said.
Yost opted for Maurer on the road in the ninth, and Maurer battled Gomes for eight pitches before Gomes ripped a 3-2 96-mph fastball into the seats in left.
"He just beat me," Maurer said. "Must have been a good pitch to hit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hammel works out of trouble: The Indians' biggest threat against Hammel came in the fifth when Yonder Alonso singled to lead off, and with one out, Tyler Naquin singled. But Hammel came back and struck out Zimmer on a 3-2 fastball that just nicked the outside corner. Then with the shift on, Francisco Lindor grounded out to the right side, and Hammel preserved a 1-0 lead.
"I made some really good pitches, got a couple ground balls and Lindor's kind of been my thorn that's always come back and got me," Hammel said. "We pitched Lindor well today. That's what I feel best about, is keeping that guy off the bases. He can do some damage."
Don't run on Zim: Throughout his rookie campaign last year, Zimmer flashed a strong arm from center for the Tribe. That has continued this season and it cost Kansas City a run on Sunday. With two outs in the third, Jay tried to score from second on a single up the middle by Mike Moustakas. Zimmer gloved the ball and fired it 233 feet on the fly (per Statcast™) to catcher Gomes, who applied the tag for an impressive inning-ending out.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS The announced temperature at first pitch for Sunday's game was 32 degrees, marking the coldest regular-season game on record at Progressive Field (1994-present). The previous record of 33 degrees occurred twice (April 5 and 7 in 1996).
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY The Royals challenged a safe call in the eighth inning when Ramirez tapped a check-swing grounder down the third-base line and the throw to first seemingly pulled Merrifield off the bag. The call was overturned and Ramirez was ruled out.
WHAT'S NEXT Right-hander Jakob Junis (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second start of the season as the Royals return to Kauffman Stadium to open a three-game series with the Mariners on Monday at 7:15 p.m CT. Junis was superb in his first outing Tuesday in Detroit, allowing just three hits and one walk with six strikeouts over seven-plus innings.