Over his career, James Shields has faced no team more often than the Yankees. He's started against them 28 times.
"Whew, that's a lot," Shields said.
No. 29 will come on Sunday when he's matched against Hiroki Kuroda and a lineup that's likely to include Derek Jeter, who is 25-for-85 against Shields. That's .294 which also happens to be the Yankees' all-time batting average against Shields.
"It's always fun to pitch against the Yankees. They're a good team top to bottom, their lineup is always good. They've got some guys in there that can swing it," Shields said.
"Fun" might be a stretch because his record is 8-15 vs. New York. He's pitched virtually an entire season against the Yankees -- 182 2/3 innings in those 28 starts. Heck, he's seen a Yankee come to the plate 771 times.
Most of that came, of course, when he was with Tampa Bay in the American League East.
"They had some pretty good teams over the years -- the '06, '07 teams were really, really good. Even the '08 team was pretty good even though they didn't make the playoffs that year," Shields said. "They're always a good team and it's always a battle facing them, and I'm up to the challenge for sure."
Kuroda will be starting against the Royals on four days' rest and that usually spells trouble for the opposition. He's 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA when pitching on four days' rest, compared to 1-3 with a 4.83 ERA otherwise.
"I don't dwell on that, but I think having four days of rest on a consistent basis between starts will help me as the season goes on," Kuroda said.
Kuroda is unbeaten in his last six starts, going 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA over that span. It's the longest unbeaten streak for Kuroda since a seven-game span in 2012.
"I feel like I've been getting sharper," Kuroda said.
With three members of the Yankees' season-opening projected rotation on the disabled list, Kuroda is looking to provide quality and consistency.
"I'm trying my best to stay healthy and be productive," Kuroda said.
Yankees: Scripting the pitching
Assuming all of his current relievers are available, manager Joe Girardi knows how he would like to ideally script his pitching plans.
On any given day, Girardi would like for his starter to go at least six strong innings. If the Yankees are protecting a lead at that juncture and the starter needs to come out, it would be Dellin Betances for the seventh, Adam Warren in the eighth and David Robertson in the ninth.
"I'll try to slot them, in a sense," Girardi said.
Betances and Warren have emerged this season and Robertson has handled the pressure of following Mariano Rivera as the Yankees' closer.
"You have to remember that when we've had a seventh-inning guy and eighth-inning guy in the past, they've been rather experienced and had done it for a while," Girardi said. "We don't necessarily have that."
Nevertheless, Girardi is confident in the back-end bullpen talent at his disposal. "It's nice," he said.
Royals: Yost biding his time
The Royals no longer are the lowest-scoring team in the American League -- Houston and Tampa Bay have sunk below them in the runs department.
Manager Ned Yost, though, is still waiting for the big guns in his lineup to start unleashing a barrage of extra-base hits and the accompanying explosion of runs.
The heart of his order consists of Omar Infante, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez.
"Billy's looking better, Sal's mixing in his hits here and there," Yost said. "Our best hitters right now are Gordon, [Alcides] Escobar and [Lorenzo] Cain. When we get it turned around and we get on a run, it'll be because our best hitters are Infante, Hosmer, Butler, Gordon and Perez. … It'll get turned around, It's just been a scuffle to this point."
• May awards: The Royals Player of the Month was left fielder Gordon and the Pitcher of the Month was reliever Wade Davis.
• Gordon is 6-for-8 against Kuroda; Butler is 4-for-9 and Infante is 4-for-10. The only homer off him by a current Royal came from Mike Moustakas -- his only hit in six at-bats.
• Carlos Beltran has been used exclusively as a designated hitter since coming off the disabled list (right elbow) on Thursday, but Girardi doesn't think he'll be confined to a DH role over the long haul. "At some point, we'll try to have him throw, but I just don't have a date," Girardi said.
• With his first Major League win on Friday, Chase Whitley became the third Yankees rookie starter to gain a victory this season. Whitley joined right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and left-hander Vidal Nuno.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.