3 reasons why Thursday's game should concern the KC Royals

Kansas City beat Oakland Thursday. It wasn't convincing.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
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James McArthur wasn't sharp again

Will Smith seemed to be Kansas City's closer when the season started. But his early struggles thrust McArthur into the role; the second-year Royal looked well-suited for it when, at the end of April, he'd saved seven games and was 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA.

May was different. McArthur did save four more games, but he also blew three, suffered two losses, and gave up 12 runs (two unearned) in 10 innings.

June has been better, but McArthur still has work to do. He entered Thursday's game with a 3.60 ERA for the month, not an ideal mark for a closer, and flirted too closely with increasing it after relieving Lugo with the game tied, one runner on, and two away in the seventh. Fortunately, the double he yielded to Abraham Toro went for naught when second baseman Adam Frazier took Dairon Blanco's throw from right field and gunned down Kyle McCann at the plate.

Had McCann scored, of course, his run would have been charged to Lugo with no effect on McArthur's ERA. But after McArthur picked Max Schuemann off after walking him to begin the eighth and JJ Bleday grounded out, he walked Miguel Andujar, who moved around to third on Brent Rooker's single. All that spurred a pitching change by manager Matt Quatraro; Ángel Zerpa replaced McArthur and induced a force out to end the threat.

It wasn't a save situation for McArthur. Nevertheless, it turned out to be the kind of shaky performance he needs to avoid if he's going to be the club's closer.