When veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle takes the mound at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday, he'll probably feel like he's at his home away from home.
He'll face Jeremy Guthrie who is going for the series sweep for the Royals. He's 2-1 with a 4.22 ERA in five starts this season. Guthrie sports a 4-9 record in May over the past three seasons.
From 2000 through 2011, Buehrle worked for the White Sox in the American League Central and therefore got to see the Royals often. While Buehrle is thoroughly familiar with the Kansas City hitters, manager John Gibbons cautions that it's a two-way street. Gibbons said the Royals know Buehrle forward and backward and will have a specific plan on how they want to attack.
"I know when I was over there in Kansas City as bench coach (2009 to 2011), they always seemed to have a pretty good approach against Buehrle," Gibbons said. "So I think the familiarity thing can work either way. The bottom line is that if a pitcher is on and dissecting the plate, it's always going to stop good hitting."
In his career, Buehrle has faced the Royals 52 times and has a 23-12 record and a 3.66 ERA against them. He's beaten only the Twins more times (28). At Kauffman Stadium, Buehrle has an 11-9 mark and a 4.00 ERA.
The Royals' Billy Butler has done all right against Buehrle, 20-for-60, .333, with three homers and 15 RBIs but he has respect for the lefty.
"He's got one of the best changeups in the game, he's got a really good cutter and he locates really well," Butler said. "He's very effective, he doesn't give in and he works really fast. You know one thing for a fact, whenever Buehrle's in the game, it's going to be fast."
This year Buehrle is off to a 4-1 getaway in five starts.
"Mark has had a great first month for us because he knows how to dot it up with his control," Gibbons said. "When he's hitting his spots and changing speeds the way he can, he's going to have a lot of guys off-balance. We just hope he has one of those vintage Buehrle nights for us."
After Buehrle was 16-6 against the Royals through 2007, they've evened things out a bit since at 7-6.
"I've seen us get to him a few times but they're few and far between," Butler said. "He's going to be tough, he always is."
Blue Jays: Good defense more than errors
Through 26 games, the Blue Jays had committed only nine errors and their .990 fielding percentage ranked No. 1 in the American League.
But there's more to good defense than just the error count and Gibbons didn't like the fundamental defensive lapses that loomed large in a 10-7 loss to the Royals on Tuesday. Left fielder Melky Cabrera allowed Eric Hosmer to go first-to-third on a sharp single in the eighth inning and then could not hit the cutoff man on a Salvador Perez double down the left-field line that allowed the go-ahead run to score from first base. Then there was Alex Gordon's high fly ball in the seventh that fell in right-center as center fielder Colby Rasmus didn't aggressively take charge.
Three defensive mistakes, but no charged errors. Gibbons was willing to forgive his team for a bad night in the field, but doesn't want a trend to develop.
"We didn't play good (Tuesday), but we've been playing good defense all year," Gibbons said. "You just chalk it up as one of those games. We sat back a little bit. We were lax."
Royals: May Day! May Day!
It was no laughing matter last year when the Royals went 8-20 in May, their only month with a losing record. It was a doozy, no doubt costing the team a playoff spot. But manager Ned Yost found a bit of gallows humor about it on the last day of April this year.
"There's a little bit of the scene of the crime there, you know," Yost said, chuckling. "I looked at it today and said, 'Oooh, we start May tomorrow.' "
Even before Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays, the Royals knew they couldn't have a losing record in March/April this year.
"We played one month below .500 and it was May," Yost said. "We've got a pretty nice little string going, if you think about it."
He meant five straight months with no losing record.
Anyway, he thought about that miserable last May. Would his players be pondering it as the calendar turned?
"No, nobody's concerned about it. Nobody's spent one second thinking about it because it's a whole different time, a whole different experience," he said.
• Although Cabrera went into the last day of April with 41 hits, he was well off the Blue Jays franchise record for hits in a month.
Lloyd Moseby had 47 hits for Toronto in August 1983.
• Because of a conflict with the NFL's Lions-Giants game at Detroit on Sept. 8, the Royals' game against the Tigers at adjacent Comerica Park has been moved back to 3:08 p,m. CT.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.