The tone of the game was set early. Whit Merrifield reached on an error by Tribe shortstop Francisco Lindor. Merrifield stole second base, but then he got overaggressive and tried to advance on a hard ground ball to short. He was thrown out easily at third.
"Terrible read," Merrifield said, shaking his head. "I was just telling [coach] Rusty [Kuntz] that I don't think I've done that in three or four years. I really don't know what I was thinking. I thought maybe he was in the hole when he hit it. But it was right at Lindor, so it was just a poor read. It kind of set the tone for the game. So I was pretty upset about that."
The Royals had another chance in the second inning, when Jorge Bonifacio singled and Alcides Escobar doubled with two out. But Cheslor Cuthbert popped out, ending the threat.
Alex Gordon, who had three hits on the night, doubled leading off the third. But the next three hitters all grounded out against Merritt, a left-hander with below-average velocity but a good changeup, and Gordon never advanced beyond second.
"I don't know," Merrifield said. "It was frustrating. I felt like I was seeing the ball well. And everybody kind of had the same reaction when they came back in the dugout: 'Seeing it well. Feel like I'm putting a good swing on it. Just pounding it in the ground.'"
Two of Kansas City's innings ended on double-play balls.
"[Merritt] did a great job of spotting his fastball and then getting us out front on the changeup twice with runners at second and nobody out, we rolled over to short, and twice for double-play balls," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Kind of neutralized our opportunities there with the changeup."
The Royals had yet another chance in the seventh, with runners on first and third and two out. But Merrifield ran into some back luck, lining out hard to right field.
The Royals went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"We had a pretty good idea what to expect [from Merritt]," Yost said, "but good arm speed with the changeup just got us out front. It's a good pitch."