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

A pair of opposing starters will look to get back on track when division rivals square off in Minneapolis on Tuesday for the second game of a three-game set.

The host Twins will send Ricky Nolasco to the mound. Minnesota signed the veteran righty to a four-year free-agent contract in the offseason with the hope that he could stabilize what was a shaky starting rotation in 2013. Instead it's been quite the opposite.

In his most recent start, on Thursday against the Angels, Nolasco surrendered six earned runs on 11 hits in six innings, bringing his ERA to 5.74.

"It all gets back to him locating his fastball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When we see his fastball and he uses that a little bit more, everything seems to work out a little bit better. When we see him get in trouble is when he is not locating his fastball. The breaking balls, he can spin [those] as well as anybody, but it is all about that fastball.''

The Royals' James Shields will be looking to put a sub-par June behind him. He posted a 4.88 ERA in five June starts and allowed nine earned runs in 14 innings over his last two outings.

The Royals' rotation has been solid, and its collective 3.75 ERA ranks fifth in the American League.

The offense, meanwhile, has been a different story.

Since tearing through a 10-game winning streak to take over first place in the AL Central, Kansas City has gone 4-7 while averaging just 3.5 runs per game, scoring two runs or fewer six times in that span.

Epitomizing the club's offensive woes -- Monday's six-run outburst not withstanding -- is first baseman Eric Hosmer, who is 5-for-36 with no extra-base hits or RBIs in his last nine games.

"He's got to continue to work to get through it, because once he gets through it, he's going go on a tear," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Twins: Plouffe, Nunez back
The Twins on Monday got back two key pieces, as Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Nunez were activated from the disabled list.

Hitting sixth, Plouffe went 1-for-4 in Minnesota's 6-1 loss to the Royals. He's hitting .241 with five home runs and 38 RBIs in 65 games.

Nunez, meanwhile, has made significant contributions to the offense in limited time. Batting eighth on Monday, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and is hitting .301 in 73 at-bats.

To make room on the 25-man roster, the Twins optioned infielder Pedro Florimon to Triple-A Rochester and infielder Jorge Polanco to Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

Royals: Ibanez back in Royal blue
After rejoining the team for which he played from 2001 to 2003, Raul Ibanez didn't make his 2014 Royals debut on Monday night, but expect the 19-year veteran to see ample playing time.

Looking for an offensive spark, the Royals on Monday signed Ibanez, who was released by the Angels on June 21. He posted a .157/.258/.265 line in 57 games for the Halos.

"We're just looking to score some runs. We're not looking for him to complement anybody," Yost said. "We think that he's got plenty left in his game, and we think he's going to help us score more runs."

Ibanez hit for a combined .291 during his last stint with the Royals. In 2002 he hit .294 with 24 homers and 103 RBIs. The club plans to rotate him between the outfield, first base and designated hitter.

Worth noting
• In addition to signing Ibanez, the Royals on Monday recalled infielder Christian Colon from Triple-A Omaha. To make room for the pair, the club designated outfielder Justin Maxwell and infielder Pedro Ciriaco for assignment.

• Minnesota has gone 16-13 against the AL Central, joining Detroit as the only teams in the division with a winning record against division foes.

• Chris Parmelee extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 games with a double on Monday. Comments