Shields says it will be strange to face Rays in next start

James Shields is already bracing for his next start, which comes Tuesday night when the Royals open a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium against his former club -- the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I don’t think it’s going to be strange facing them,” he said, “but I think it’s going to be strange looking in the dugout and seeing (David) Price and (pitching coach) Jim Hickey, Alex Cobb, Hellie (Jeremy Hellickson) -- all of the pitching staff.

“Just seeing them sitting there and watching me from the other side. I think that will be a little more crazy for me than actually facing them. Once I get in the game, it’s game on.”

Shields also confirmed a report in the Tampa Bay Times that he has been in contact with Rays third baseman Evan Longoria regarding the latter’s recent comments.

Longoria previously suggested the Rays were in a “better mental state” without Shields and outfielder B.J. Upton because the two veterans often referenced their time with the club’s struggling years.

Upton departed the Rays in the offseason as a free agent who eventually signed with Atlanta.

“(Longoria) texted me a little while ago to apologize,” Shields said. “It didn’t come out the way he wanted. Everything is fine.”

So...no retaliation then?

“I’m not going to hit him,” Shields laughed, “but I’m going to pitch inside if I need to. I’m definitely not going to be scared to do that.

“Look, I’ve known him for years, and I’m not going to let something so little ruin what we’ve had in the past. I don’t care about the petty stuff, and I don’t have any room for drama.”

Another postponement

Steady rain in the Kansas City area forced a postponement of Friday’s series opener between the Royals and Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.

The game will be rescheduled as part of a day/night doubleheader on Sunday. The games will start at 1:10 p.m. (as originally scheduled) and 7:10 p.m.

Day/night doubleheaders are not true doubleheaders in that the stadium is cleared between games. Separate admissions are charged for both games.

Here are the pitching matchups for the next four games:

Saturday: The Royals’ Ervin Santana vs. Scott Kazmir. They were orginally scheduled to start Friday night.

Sunday: For the first game, the Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie will face Justin Masterson. Sunday’s second game is TBD for both teams.

The Royals’ Wade Davis will face Ubaldo Jimenez in Monday’s game.

Tickets for Friday’s game are good for Sunday’s night game.

It is the third postponement for the Royals in eight days. Their April 19 game in Boston was postponed because of a city-wide manhunt for the Marathon bomber; Tuesday’s game in Detroit was postponed due to rain.

Lineup tweak

Manager Ned Yost dismissed the suggestion that he planned to bench Mike Moustakas and Chris Getz for Friday’s opener against Cleveland to avoid left-on-left matchups against Indians starter Scott Kazmir.

“I don’t want to sit either of those guys,” Yost said. “It’s because I want (Elliot) Johnson and (Miguel) Tejada in a game. I think Moose is really making some headway (in ending a slump), but I’ve got to get Tejada in a game.”

Moustakas had a double and a walk in his final two plate appearances in Thursday’s 8-3 victory at Detroit after going hitless in 12 previous at-bats. He was three-for-27 on the road trip, which dropped his average to .154.

Offensive numbers

There are all sorts of ways to underscore the value of the Royals’ improved pitching through the season’s first 19 games. Some can be deceptive. So these offensive numbers are presented without comment.

You judge:

The Royals have club-wide slash lines of .268/.321/.392 for batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

A year ago, through 19 games, those numbers were .262/.323/.422.

In other words, they had roughly the same average and on-base percentage but better power. They had 67 extra-base hits last season at this point, including 19 homers. This year: 54 extra-base hits and 11 homers.

A year ago, the Royals were 5-14, tied for last place in the American League Central Division and already five games out of first. This year, they began the night at 11-8 and in first place by 11/2games.

Better quality

Shields registered the Royals’ 11th quality start -- six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs -- in Thursday’s 8-3 victory at Detroit.

Shields’ effort -- three runs in eight innings -- came in the club’s 19th game of the season. That means the rotation is delivering a quality start 57.9 percent of the time.

A year ago, the Royals didn’t get their 11th quality start until game 34. That was a 32.4 percent ratio.

Scoring change

A scoring change by Major League Baseball took an error away from left fielder Alex Gordon in the second game of last Sunday’s doubleheader in Boston.

Gordon and center fielder Lorenzo Cain came together on Mike Carp’s one-out drive in the fourth inning at the warning track. Both players were positioned to catch the ball, but both veered off to avoid a collision.

The original scoring was an error on Gordon. The new scoring credits Carp with a triple and adds another hit (but no earned runs) to Jeremy Guthrie’s pitching line.

Looking back

It was 40 years ago Saturday -- April 27, 1973 -- that Steve Busby pitched the first no-hitter in Royals’ history.

Busby, 23 at the time, was making his 10th big-league start when he silenced the Detroit Tigers in a 3-0 victory at old Tiger Stadium. While he permitted no hits, Busby worked around six walks.

The game was scoreless until Ed Kirkpatrick led off the fifth with a homer against Jim Perry. It remained 1-0 until the Royals scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings.

Busby threw another no-hitter in 1974 against the Brewers in Milwaukee. The only other no-hitters in club history were by Jim Colborn in 1977 against Texas, and Bret Saberhagen in 1991 against Chicago.