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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Royals cruise to victory over Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Alcides Escobar went 2-for-4 with four RBI as the Royals cruised to a 6-1 win over the Twins at Target Field.  Salvador Perez also went 2-for-4 and hit a solo homer as Kansas City won its third in four games.  Danny Duffy allowed one run over five-and-two-thirds innings, improving to 5-and-7 for the Royals.  Yohan Pino gave up four runs over five-and-two-thirds frames for Minnesota, falling to 0-and-2.  Eduardo Nunez finished 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Twins, who have dropped six of their last seven.

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The Minnesota Twins announced that they have reinstated infielder Trevor Plouffe from the 15-day disabled list.  They have also returned infielder Eduardo Nunez from his rehab assignment and reinstated him from the disabled list.  Plouffe (rib injury) and Nunez (right hamstring strain) both missed the Twins last 14 games after suffering their injuries during the game on June 14 at Detroit.  Nunez played in four games on rehab assignment with Double-A New Britain, going 4-for-10 (.400) with three walks and a triple.  To make room for Plouffe and Nunez on the 25-man roster, the Twins have optioned infielder Pedro Florimon to Triple-A Rochester and infielder Jorge Polanco to Single-A Ft. Myers.  Florimon appeared in eight games for the Twins during his recent stint, going 0-for-11.  Polanco appeared in four games for the Twins, going 2-for-5 and made his major league debut in Anaheim on Thursday night.

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The Twins will be anxious to hit the field for a rematch with the Royals this evening at Target Field.  The Royals took the series opener last night with a 6-1 final.  Tonight, the Twins will send Ricky Nolasco (4-6, 5.74 ERA) up against James Shields (8-3, 3.79)  Nolasco has dropped three of his last four decisions.  First pitch tonight is at 7:10.

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The Minnesota Wild enter the NHL Free Agency period beginning this morning at 11 a.m.  They're said to be highly interested in former Gopher Thomas Vanek and former Flame and Bruin Jarome Iginla amongst others.  Wild forward Cody McCormick and defenseman Clayton Stoner are among the current Wild players who will also be free to sign elsewhere beginning at 11 a.m. if not locked up by Minnesota prior to the deadline.  The Wild are roughly $20 million under the $69 million salary cap.

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The Minnesota Wild announced yesterday that the club has made qualifying offers to restricted free agents defenseman Jonathon Blum, right-wing Justin Fontaine, goaltender Darcy Kuemper, right-wing Nino Niederreiter and left-wing Jason Zucker.  The team did not make qualifying offers to restricted free agents Josh Caron, Tyler Cuma and Kristopher Foucault.

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The Minnesota Wild announced yesterday it has partnered with Daktronics of Brookings, S.D. and Redwood Falls, Minn., to manufacture and install a comprehensive technology upgrade at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., that will include a new custom HD LED center-hung video board. Daktronics was the original provider of the video boards and other LED displays at Xcel Energy Center in 2000, displays that at the time set a new standard for the in-arena experience across the country. Daktronics was selected again this summer and challenged with a renewed goal: to create a new standard and take the fan experience to a new level.  The new center-hung video board will be nearly six times larger than the current one, stretching from blue line to blue line. Additional upgrades will include replacement of outdoor marquees and ribbon displays that encircle the interior arena fascia.  The new elements will be largely manufactured in Minnesota and installed over the summer, with the official unveiling planned for the Wild's first home preseason game on Sept. 27 against the Winnipeg Jets. 

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The Minnesota Timberwolves and other NBA teams are now in the middle of the NBA's free agency negotiating period which began at 11 p.m. last night.  Players cannot officially sign until July 8th.  As of yet, no word on the fate of T-Wolves star Kevin Love.  Minnesota and Golden State were in talks to send guard Klay Thompson to the T'wolves in a potential deal for Love.  Yahoo! Sports reports if that falls apart, the Timberwolves could be interested in Rockets forward Chandler Parsons.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves announced the team will not extended qualifying offers to forwards Robbie Hummel and Othyus Jeffers. With Minnesota not extending qualifying offers to Hummel and Jeffers by today's deadline, both players become unrestricted free agents today. Hummel, a 6-8 forward, appeared in 53 games (five starts) for Minnesota last season averaging 3.4 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 12.4 mpg. The Wolves originally drafted Hummel with the 58th overall selection (second round) of the 2012 NBA Draft.  Jeffers, a 6-5 guard, appeared in two games with Minnesota last season totaling two points and three rebounds. The Wolves signed Jeffers on April 8, 2014.

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The WNBA announced yesterday that Cheryl Reeve, head coach of the Minnesota Lynx, and Michael Cooper, head coach of the Atlanta Dream, will serve as head coaches for the WNBA All-Star game.  Reeve will lead the Western Conference squad and Cooper will be at the helm of the Eastern Conference team on July 19 at US Airways Center. This marks the second such honor for Reeve and the third for Cooper.  Reeve led the Western Conference squad in 2013 while Cooper led the West in 2002 and 2003.  Under WNBA guidelines, the coach of the previous season's conference champion serves as the All-Star coach for that conference, provided that the coach remains in the same position.  With that, Reeve, who guided the Lynx to the 2013 WNBA title, has earned her spot on the West bench.

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The United States is set for Tuesday's knockout round clash against Belgium at the Arena Fonte Nova. The Americans reached the Round of 16 with a hard-fought win over Ghana and a tie with Portugal. The US lost its finale to Germany, but Portugal's 2-1 win over Ghana in Group G's other match pushed the Americans through.  These two nations have faced off twice during United States' coach Jurgen  Klinsmann's tenure with the team, with Belgium taking both matches.  Tuesday's other round-of-16 encounter will be between Argentina and Switzerland.

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France and Germany will meet in the quarterfinals of the World Cup after both earned knockout-round wins on Monday in Brazil. After France beat Nigeria 2-0, Germany struggled to shake Algeria, eventually winning 2-1 after two periods of extra time. Andre Schurrle's goal in the 92nd minute broke the scoreless tie and Mesut Ozil added a goal in the 119th minute for the Germans, who extended  their tournament record by advancing to the quarters for a 16th straight World Cup.  Abdelmoumene Djabou scored for Algeria in the 120th minute.

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Defending champion Andy Murray and top-seeded Novak Djokovic each secured berths in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon with straight-set victories on Monday.  The third-seeded Murray downed No. 20 seed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3, 7-6  (8-6)  under the  closed roof on Centre Court,  while the 2011 Wimbledon champ Djokovic cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) decision over 14th-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Australian Open  champ Stan  Wawrinka advanced  to the fourth round earlier in the day with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 verdict over Denis Istomin.

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One major upset took place on the women's side Monday, with fourth-seeded and 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska dealt a stunning 6-3, 6-0 defeat by  No. 22 seed Ekaterina  Makarova in the fourth round. 2011 champion Petra Kvitova did earn a spot in the quarterfinals, however, with the sixth-seeded Czech blowing past Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-2. Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki also  exited the draw on Monday, with 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki outlasting Ivanovic  6-4, 3-6, 3-1 in a third-round match and the 16th-seeded Wozniacki falling to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets. Alize Cornet, fresh off her upset of World No. 1 Serena Williams, lost to 13th-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in another fourth-round bout.

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The Minnesota Swarm announced that the team is set to acquire goaltender Brodie MacDonald and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NLL Entry Draft from the Edmonton Rush. In return, the Swarm will send the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NLL Entry Draft, goaltender Tyler Carlson and a future second-round pick in the 2015 NLL Entry Draft to Edmonton.  The trade will be formally submitted for league review at the opening of the league's new calendar year on July 1, the first day trades are permitted for 2015 season. MacDonald, 24, is regarded as one of the game's rising young talents at the goalie position with his 6-foot-7 and 245-pound frame. As a backup to G Aaron Bold in Edmonton the past four seasons, MacDonald posted solid numbers in net, notching a 9.44 GAA and a .774 SV% in eight career appearances. The Vernon, British Columbia native appeared in 74 minutes in 2014, and recorded a .825 SV% and an 8.03 GAA. 

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