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OAK@TOR: Dickey pitches into the 9th against the A's

The hard turf at Rogers Centre provides unique challenges to the players on the field. During the Royals' upcoming series in Toronto, it will test Ned Yost's managerial moxie, too.

Second baseman Omar Infante recently came off the disabled list after dealing with back irritation, and outfielder Lorenzo Cain has battled nagging hamstring issues, so Yost will have to get creative with his lineups during Kansas City's four-game series with the Blue Jays, which starts Thursday.

"I have to be careful with Omar and Lorenzo," Yost said. "My plan is to play Omar at least two of the four games. That turf is tough."

There's something about that field, though, that seems to get James Shields to pitch well. The starting pitcher, who frequented the ballpark as a member of the Rays, has been particularly effective at Rogers Centre in recent appearances. In his last three starts, Shields has a 0.36 ERA.

Opposite Shields will be R.A. Dickey. The former Cy Young Award winner has been inconsistent this season, but he found his groove the last time out. The knuckleballer tossed 8 1/3 innings of two-run ball while allowing just five hits to the AL West-best Athletics. The start brought his ERA back down below 4.00.

Royals: Yost not committing to Ventura replacement
Yost hasn't yet picked a player to take Yordano Ventura's spot in the rotation when he misses his start on Saturday. The right-hander will miss a game after injuring his elbow last time out.

The manager is weighing Triple-A options as well as relief pitchers who could be capable of making a spot start.

Wade Davis is the only member of the Royals' bullpen to have started a game in his career. The pitcher has struck out 40 batters and allowed just four runs on 10 hits in 22 1/3 innings this season.

Blue Jays: Encarnacion keeps powering Toronto
Toronto is the hottest team in baseball for a variety of reasons. It is scoring runs when the pitching isn't there and pitching well when the hitting slumps.

The most consistent piece, though, has been Edwin Encarnacion. The corner infielder didn't blast one of his astonishing 14 May home runs on Wednesday, but he did drive in a pair of runs with a single in the first inning to give the Blue Jays an early lead.

Encarnacion has already tied the team record for home runs in a single month and, with three days left in May, he is three home runs shy of Barry Bonds' record for May home runs.

Worth noting
• Thanks to his time in Tampa, Shields has an extensive history with several Blue Jays, including Adam Lind. Shields has faced the first baseman 53 times in his career and allowed five home runs -- the most he has allowed to any single player. Jose Bautista has also drilled four homers off the starting pitcher in just 33 plate appearances. Comments