Mark Buehrle will on Sunday look to continue what has been a spectacular start to the season. At 9-1, the veteran left-hander is the second Blue Jays pitcher to win at least nine of his first 11 starts to a season. And it's the most wins he's ever had before the month of June in his 15-year career.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Buehrle is a fast worker and as consistent as they come.
"Any day it's his turn, you feel pretty good," said Gibbons. "You know who he is, you know what he's going to do, and you know it's going to be quick."
Buehrle is coming off a start of 6 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay in which he allowed eight hits and three earned runs. His 2.33 ERA is third best among American League starters, and he's the first pitcher in the Majors to reach nine wins this season.
Buehrle has faced the Royals many times, due to his 12 seasons with the White Sox, and he has done very well against them. His career record against the Royals is 24-12 in 53 games (51 starts) with a 3.64 ERA.
However, one Kansas City player who has handled Buehrle is designated hitter Billy Butler. He's hit .349 (22-for-63) against Buehrle with three home runs and 17 RBIs.
"You've got to be patient with him because he's going to throw a lot of strikes, and sometimes the strikes that you want aren't the ones he's throwing," Butler said. "He keeps it down, cuts it on you, sinks it away, he's got a really good changeup."
Butler acknowledged that Buehrle doesn't like to dawdle between pitches.
"You've got to slow him down. He works really fast and if he gets in a rhythm and he's locating and he's hitting his spots, it's really a battle," Butler said. "If he gives you a pitch to hit, you've got to hit that one. If you foul that one off, you've got to hit one of his pitches."
While Butler makes it a special point to study pitchers carefully, Buehrle takes the opposite approach. He skips the Blue Jays' pitchers meetings to go over hitters and lets his catcher worry about it.
"Give him a lot of credit. That's what works for him, not for everybody," Butler said. "At this point, it's done well for him and it's done really exceptionally well this season."
After a dreadful start from Aaron Brooks (seven runs in two-thirds of an inning) in the Royals' 12-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday, Kansas City turns to veteran Jeremy Guthrie (2-4, 4.14 ERA) to right the ship.
The Guthrie-Buehrle matchup will be a rematch from May 1, when Buehrle and the Blue Jays defeated Kansas City, 7-3.
The Royals will be looking to claim the series, while Toronto hopes to manage a split.
Blue Jays: Cecil ready to go after extra rest
Reliever Brett Cecil will be available to pitch Sunday after getting some extra rest since his last appearance.
The big left-hander was available Saturday, but he wasn't needed. Cecil hasn't pitched since Tuesday because he was experiencing shoulder soreness after sleeping awkwardly on his left arm.
"Just slept on it a little awkward a couple of nights ago, and it was soreness I've never had," he said. "It was night and day one day to the next, so they tried to stay away from me the last two days to let everything get back to normal. But it feels great today."
Cecil is 0-3 with a 3.80 ERA through 21 1/3 innings.
Royals: It was a better May
It was a losing record for the Royals in May at 12-17, but at least it was an improvement over 2013.
A year ago the Royals stumbled through May with an 8-20 record.
They ended the month mired in fifth place in the AL Central with a 22-30 record, and May got the blame as the anchor that ultimately sank the Royals' Wild Card hopes.
It was their only losing month of the season.
• Catcher Salvador Perez and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who got a day off from the Royals' starting lineup on Saturday, are expected back on Sunday. Second baseman Omar Infante's return, however, depends on how his back feels after playing the first two games on the Rogers Centre turf.
• Cumulatively, the current Blue Jays hold a spectacular .326/.373/.578 career line versus Guthrie in 218 at-bats. Adam Lind leads the way with a .364 average to go with five extra-base hits (one homer, one triple, three doubles) in 44 at-bats.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.