Royals-Blue Jays Preview


After getting their prolific offense back on track, the Toronto Blue Jays have to feel good about their chances to earn a split of a four-game set with the majors' wins leader taking the mound.

As Mark Buehrle looks to become baseball's first 10-game winner, the Blue Jays will try for their 16th victory in 20 games Sunday when they meet the visiting Kansas City Royals.

AL East-leading Toronto (33-24) averaged 5.9 runs with a .309 average over a 10-game stretch before failing to score at least two runs for the first time since April 25 in Friday's 6-1 loss.

The Blue Jays dropped two straight to open this series following a nine-game winning streak, but came back Saturday with seven first-inning runs en route to matching a season-high run total in a 12-2 victory. Juan Francisco and Adam Lind went a combined 6 for 9 with four doubles and six RBIs for Toronto, which set a team record when the first eight batters reached base off rookie Aaron Brooks.

"I think the biggest key for us is, for a good team, when you lose a couple of games, and then struggle, how you bounce back and respond your next couple of games," Buehrle told the team's official website.

Buehrle (9-1, 2.33 ERA) continued his surprising resurgence Tuesday, allowing four runs - three earned - in 6 2-3 innings to win his fifth straight decision in a 9-6 victory over Tampa Bay.

That streak began in Kansas City on May 1, when he gave up two earned runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-3 victory. The left-hander is 24-12 with a 3.64 ERA in 53 career games versus the Royals (26-29).

Omar Infante is 4 for 20 when facing Buehrle, but all four hits have been in the last two meetings. Billy Butler has a .349 average with three home runs in 63 at-bats versus Buehrle, and he's 7 for 14 in this series.

The Royals have a pair of other hot bats with Alex Gordon batting .364 during a nine-game hitting streak and Lorenzo Cain going 12 for 25 with six RBIs in his last six. Cain should return to the lineup after being rested Saturday.

Kansas City, however, has given starter Jeremy Guthrie (2-4, 4.14) just one run of support over his last three outings.

The right-hander allowed one run with a season-high five strikeouts over six innings in Tuesday's 3-0 home loss to Houston, leaving him on the verge of a career high-tying 10th consecutive start without a win.

"I've been given plenty of run support, not only this season but as long as I've been a Kansas City Royal," Guthrie said. "I'm the last guy that can ever feel the offense isn't doing their part."

Guthrie opposed Buehrle on May 1, allowing four runs over six innings. Francisco took Guthrie deep in that game and has three hits - all homers - in six career at-bats against him.

Guthrie is 2-4 in 11 starts at Rogers Centre, but his 2.63 ERA there is his best of any ballpark where he's started at least three times. He's given up one run over 19 innings in his last three outings in Toronto dating to his time with Baltimore.

Lind is 12 for 24 with a home run versus Guthrie since 2009, while Edwin Encarnacion has gone 6 for 15 with two doubles off him the past four seasons. Lind is batting .412 over his last 15 games overall.

Kansas City seeks its first series win since a two-game sweep of Colorado from May 13-14.