Nolasco stumbles in return
MINNEAPOLIS — A five-run fourth inning powered Kansas City past Minnesota 6-5 Friday night in the first of a four-game series at Target Field.
It was a bases-loaded double by former Twin Josh Willingham that did a bulk of the damage for the Royals. His sharp ground ball got by third base and rolled into the left-field corner, scoring all three runners to give the Royals the lead for good at 3-2.
Kansas City tacked on two more runs that inning and added an insurance run with three singles in the eighth to provide left-handed starter Danny Duffy and the Royals bullpen with all the support they needed.
Duffy went 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs — two earned — on six hits in earning his eighth victory. Aaron Crow, Francisley Bueno, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis bridged the gap to closer Greg Holland, who allowed a pair of runs in the ninth inning, but closed the door for his major league-leading 37th save.
Friday marked the return to the mound by Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who missed six weeks with an elbow strain. He escaped harm in each of the first three innings, but allowed the five earned runs in the fourth. He lasted six innings and 81 pitches in his first big-league start since July 6, dropping to 5-8 this season.
After the Twins took advantage of a throwing error by Duffy to score the first two runs of the game in the third, Kansas City loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the fourth. Willingham, a former Twin, promptly cleared the bases with a double into the left-field corner.
The Royals tacked on two more before Nolasco recorded an out in the inning, finishing the frame with a five-spot and a three-run lead.
Minnesota got one run closer with a single run in the bottom half of the inning, getting a run on a double play groundout by right fielder Oswaldo Arcia.
NOTES: The Twins reinstated RHP Ricky Nolasco from the 15-day disabled list before the game. Nolasco started the game for Minnesota, his first start since July 6 (right elbow strain). ... To make room on the 25-man roster for Nolasco, Minnesota optioned RHP Yohan Pino to Triple-A Rochester. Pino is 1-5 with a 5.37 ERA in 10 starts with the Twins this season. ... Royals 1B Eric Hosmer will not undergo X-rays on his fractured right hand until the end of the Royals’ nine-game road trip, a move that could delay a potential return to the lineup by at least 10 days. If all progresses well, Hosmer could rejoin the Kansas City lineup sometime in September.