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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Twins begins a four-game series tonight against the Yankees

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Vargas and two relievers combined on a four-hitter as the Royals shut out the Twins 4-0 at Target Field.  Vargas fanned five while allowing four hits and two walks in seven innings to improve to 8-3.  Mike Moustakas, Jarrod Dyson and Eric Hosmer each had RBI singles and Raul Ibanez hit a solo homer for Kansas City, which took two-of-three in the series.  Kevin Correia allowed just two runs in six innings, but fell to 4-10 with the loss.  Chris Parmelee had two of the five hits for Minnesota, which has lost seven of its last nine games.

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Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer has been placed on the 15-day disabled list  with a strained right oblique. Mauer extended his season-high hit streak to 12 games with a double in the fourth inning of Tuesday's win against Kansas City  but  limped into  second base  and left  the game  one inning later. The former AL MVP is batting .271 with two  homers and 28 RBI for the Twins this season while playing  exclusively at  first base  for the  first time  in his career.  Mauer  won three Gold  Gloves as a catcher  before making the move to  first in an effort to help prolong his career.  To take the place of Mauer on the 25-man roster, the Twins have recalled first baseman/outfielder Chris Colabello from Triple-A Rochester.  Colabello played in 36 games for the Red Wings, hitting .275 (36-for-131) with eight doubles, six home runs and 27 RBI.  He played 40 games with the Twins earlier this season, hitting .232 (35-for-151) with 10 doubles, four home runs and 30 RBI.

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Sean Rodriguez snapped a 3-all tie with a two-run homer in the sixth inning and the Rays went on to beat the Yankees 6-3 in the Bronx.  Rodriguez also had an RBI single for Tampa Bay, which swept the three-game series.  Vidal Nuno was charged with four runs in five frames to fall to 2-and-5.  Brett Gardner and Brian McCann both hit solo homers for New York in defeat.  Yankees now begin a four game series tonight at Target Field.

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 The Minnesota Wild busy start to free agency continued on Wednesday when Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher announced the club has agreed to terms with forward Joel Rechlicz on a one-year, two-way contract. Rechlicz, 27, collected two points (1-1=2) and 87 penalty minutes (PIM) in 25 games with the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2013-14. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound native of Brookfield, Wis., has recorded one assist and 105 PIM in 26 career NHL games with the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. He has notched six points (3-3=6) and 886 PIM in 187 career AHL matches with Albany, Bridgeport, Hershey and Portland. He ranked second in the AHL with 267 PIM in 2011-12 and was named Hershey's AHL Man of the Year for his outstanding contributions to community and charitable organizations.

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Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has dropped out of the celebrity softball game that is part of All-Star weekend at Target Field.  Love's name was not included in the latest media release promoting the game, which will be played on July 13 and broadcast on ESPN the next night.  The game is part of a Sunday ticket package that also includes a Futures Game, involving minor league players who are divided into teams representing the United States and the rest of the world.  Twins president Dave St. Peter said, in a Twitter message that "MLB and the Twins were notified this week that Love has a conflict."  Love recently announced that he would opt out of his contract with the Timberwolves after next season, giving him the opportunity to become a free agent.  He has been the subject of much NBA trade speculation.

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Yesterday Cretin-Derham Hall defensive end Jashon Cornell made it official - he's going to Ohio State to pursue his college football playing career.  Cornell, along with linebacker Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati, both made their announcements at the same time on ESPN.com.  Both declared OSU as their college destination.  Cornell said Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Iowa were his five finalists.  Cornell told the Star-Tribune that the University of Minnesota was number six on his list.

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 The Minnesota Lynx will be in for a tough match up tonight at Target Center as they prepare to host the San Antonio Stars at 7 p.m.  The Stars are riding one of the longest road win streaks in franchise history and haven't lost away from the Lone Star State since last month - when they were dropped by this same Lynx squad.  While the Stars have won five straight on the road - their longest road win streak since 2012 - they've dropped 10 in a row at Minnesota, including two in the 2011 playoffs.  The Lynx are hopeful to have Seimone Augustus back in the mix.  She sat out Sunday's 74-69 home win over Seattle with bursitis on her left knee.  

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Top seed Novak Djokovic needed all five sets to win his quarterfinal match Wednesday at Wimbledon, while seven-time champion Roger Federer advanced in four and defending titlist Andy Murray  was  sent  packing  by  rising  Bulgarian  star  Grigor  Dimitrov.  The former  champion  and  2013  runner-up Djokovic  trailed two-sets-to-one against 26th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic before turning  things around on the No. 1 Court.  The French Open  runner-up  Djokovic will  meet  Dimitrov,  who leveled  the  third-seeded Murray in Friday's semifinals at  the All England Club. The fourth-seeded  former No. 1 great Federer overcame Australian Open champ and  fifth-seeded fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka on the famed Centre Court.  The 32-year-old Federer's next  opponent  will  be 6-foot-5 eighth-seeded Canadian slugger Milos Raonic, who came  from  behind to best fellow young gun, 19-year-old Aussie Nick Kyrgios.

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Rising stars Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard will meet in the semifinals on the women's side after winning quarterfinal matches in straight sets on Wednesday.  The  third-seeded French Open  runner-up Halep, who trailed 1-4 in  the  opening  set,  won the  last  11  games  to  beat last  year's  Wimbledon  runner-up  and 19th  seeded Sabine Lisicki in 57  minutes on  the  famed Centre Court. Lisicki lost to France's Marion  Bartoli in last year's  finale.  The  13th-seeded Canadian  Bouchard reached  her third straight Grand  Slam semifinal with a 6-3, 6-4 upset victory  over ninth-seeded  German  left-hander Angelique Kerber at the All England Club.  Thursday's other semifinal will pit sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova against 23rd-seeded fellow Czech  left-hander Lucie Safarova. 

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It took about three minutes to finish Tuesday night's suspended game.  After a walk to Brandon Tripp, Joe Bonfe flew out to center to end the game that was halted on Tuesday night at Midway Stadium, in front of 3,521, because of a power outage.  The big blow came in the fourth as the RedHawks scored five runs to take an 8-1 lead.  Saints starter Cole Nelson walked the first two hitters he faced.  After a strikeout of Brandon Newton, Nelson departed for reliever Ben Hughes.  He walked Tim Alberts to load the bases.  Zach Penprase made it 6-1 with a two-run double.  That was followed by a three-run homer from Bourquin, his eighth of the season.

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St. Paul Saints starting pitcher Jeff Shields was moved to the bullpen after a rough patch as a starter.  After Wednesday night's performance Shields may have etched his name back in the starting rotation every fifth day.  The sinker ball pitcher threw 8.0 masterful innings, gave up just two hits and the Saints snapped their four game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Midway Stadium in front of 3,442.  The same two teams meet in the finale of the three game series tonight at Midway Stadium at 7:05 p.m.  The Saints send RHP Anthony Claggett (4-3, 1.96) to the mound against RedHawks RHP Taylor Stanton (1-5, 4.14).  It is the Independence Day Celebration with a Post-Game Fireworks SuperShow.  

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Plagued by injuries and a depleted roster the St. Paul Saints added three key elements to their roster trading for utility infielder Jared McDonald and signing free agent veteran first baseman Keith Brachold and pitcher Mackenzie King.  In order to make room for the three players the Saints placed pitcher Robert Coe on the disabled list (side) retroactive to June 29 and released pitcher Cole Nelson who was 2-4 with a 4.95 ERA in seven starts.  The Saints roster stands at 21 players, one shy of the league maximum of 22, eight pitchers and 13 position players.

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Usually known for his country music, Chris Hawkey will be singing a different tune at a St. Paul Saints baseball game, that of the National Anthem before the biggest night of the season.  Tonight, prior to the Independence Celebration, Hawkey will sing the Star Spangled Banner for the first time at Midway Stadium.  It is not the first time, however, that Hawkey has performed at the ballpark.  Prior to the Saints winter Ice Ball Game in 2009, The Chris Hawkey Band performed for nearly 1,000 fans in attendance in the Saints parking lot.  The weather for Thursday night's game is expected to be much warmer than the 19 degrees on the frigid February day.  Hawkey is the producer and co-host of Minneapolis' popular radio morning show on KFAN, the Power Trip Morning Show.  Chris has charted three Billboard country singles with his band Rocket Club.  

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