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CWS@MIN: Nolasco allows two runs over 5 1/3 frames

Ricky Nolasco's first rehab outing went well enough that he'll be the Twins' starter on Friday night in the first of a four-game set against the Royals.

The righty will make his first start since going on the disabled list with right elbow soreness on July 8. Danny Duffy will get the ball for Kansas City.

Nolasco has had a rough 2014, posting a 5.90 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 18 starts. Both are career worsts of any season in which he's made at least 10 starts.

In his rehab outing on Sunday, Nolasco allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings. He'll be on a pitch count on Friday and manager Ron Gardenhire said they'll work up from there.

"I would image we would probable keep him to 80, 85 [pitches] his next time out," Gardenhire said. "But his arm feels great, everything's strong. I'm sure he'll probably fight the whole system because I think he feels he's really ready to go."

Duffy, meanwhile, has been able to limit runs at an impressive clip this season. He's stranded runners at the 10th-best rate (80.3) of starters with at least 100 innings.

Duffy has the 13th-best ERA (2.60) of those starters, as well. But his 3.96 FIP (fielding independent pitching) indicates there could be some regression for him in the final weeks of the season. Opponents are hitting just .227 on balls in play against Duffy, well below his career average of .284.

In his last start, Duffy allowed four runs on three walks and three hits over 6 2/3 innings. But the Royals were victorious for the fourth time in Duffy's last four starts.

Twins: Long road stretch ends, homestand begins
Only two of the Twins' last 15 games have been at Target Field, but after an off-day on Thursday, they start an 11-game homestand on Friday, hosting AL Central rivals the Royals, Indians and Tigers.

Starting on July 29, the Twins played three games at Kansas City, followed by three games on the road against the White Sox. After an off day on Aug. 4, Minnesota had a brief two-game set at home with San Diego. A seven-game road trip started on Aug. 7 with four games at Oakland and three games at Houston.

"Day off comes at a good time, we went through this stretch where were on the road and only went home for two days. We headed to Oakland and then [Houston]," Gardenhire said. "So, I think everybody is worn out and tired of travel, so a day off tomorrow, we regroup, get our rotation set up, and a nice, long homestand against teams in our division. Which is huge. It will be big baseball."

Royals: Colon getting more playing time
Rookie infielder Christian Colon, who has played in only 10 Major League games, may be getting into a few more in the near future.

Colon started at third base against the A's on Wednesday night -- his first start since Aug. 3. -- and then logged a start at second in the finale Thursday. He collected a bunt single and scored one of the Royals' three runs in a 3-0 win Wednesday, then finished 3-for-4 with a double in their 7-3 triumph Thursday.

"It's tougher for a younger guy," manager Ned Yost said. "Older guys, they know what's expected of them, but he acts like an older guy, he keeps himself prepared every single day for anything that can happen.

"He takes ground balls at short, he takes ground balls at second, he takes ground balls at third. You'll see him out there, before his group hits, running the bases in case we need him to be a pinch-runner."

As the Royals embark on a nine-game road trip, there still are no guarantees of playing time for Colon, who's blocked at third by Mike Moustakas and second by Omar Infante. But with his average up to .400, he's certainly made the case for more playing time.

Said Yost: "He does a great job keeping himself prepared, so when his name's called, he's going to be ready to do whatever we need him to do."

Worth noting
• Oswaldo Arcia hit two home runs on Tuesday against the Astros in his return to the Twins' lineup after missing most of the weekend with a sore lower back. On Wednesday, he went 0-for-4.

• The Royals finished their seven-game homestand at 6-1 and have won seven straight series.

• Colon also collected his first career stolen base on Thursday.

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