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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Twins hammer White Sox

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MINNEAPOLIS --  Minnesota slugger Kennys Vargas blasted a two-run homer and totaled three RBI to guide the Twins to an 11-4 win over the White Sox at Target Field last night  Eduardo Nunez went 4-for-6 with two RBI, and Eduardo Escobar batted in a pair of runs for Minnesota, which has won two of three.  Trevor May struck out six in five frames to pick up his first career win.  John Danks got rocked for seven runs in four-and-two-thirds innings to fall to 9-and-10 for Chicago, which had won three of four entering the game.  Dayan Viciedo drove in three runs, including a two-run homer, in the loss.  The two teams split the two-game series.  Minnesota hosts the Angels tonight in Minneapolis.

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The Minnesota Vikings were back on the practice yesterday, implementing the gameplan for Sunday's regular season opener in St. Louis.  Quarterback Matt Cassel says he is excited for the opportunity to be a starting NFL quarterback again and adds he's been "through the ups and down" and being named the starter has given him a new level of confidence.  The team signed safety Ahmad Dixon to the practice squad and released offensive tackle Mike Remmers.  Sunday's game kicks off at noon.

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The St. Louis Rams are going with experience at left guard to start the regular season.  Head coach Jeff Fisher says Rodger Saffold will start over this year's second overall pick, Greg Robinson.  St. Louis opens the season Sunday against the Vikings.

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The Green Bay Packers open up the regular season tonight against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks in Seattle.  The Seahawks won the last meeting between the teams 14-12 in a controversial ending in September 2012.  However, the Packers are 10-and-6 in the all-time series.  Tonight's game begins at 7:25 p.m.

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The Chicago Bears continue to prepare for their season opener on Sunday against the Bills at Soldier Field.  Safety Chris Conte, center Brian de la Puente and full back Tony Fiammetta were limited in practice on Wednesday.  Backup quarterback David Fales is out for the game.  Bills rookie wideout Sammy Watkins was a full participant.

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The Golden Gophers continue to prepare for Saturday's showdown with Middle Tennessee at TCF Bank Stadium.  Minnesota opened the year with a 42-20 victory over Eastern Illinois last Thursday.  Middle Tennessee crushed Savannah State 61-7 on Saturday to start the season.  Gopher sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner of Lakeville says he expects to start the game a little calmer than he did last week, when he admitted to having pregame jitters.  Saturday's game kicks off at 2:40 p.m.

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 One of the marquee matchups in NCAA Division II college football for the entire season kicks off tonight in Mankato.  Fifth-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato entertains No. 12 St. Cloud State.  Both teams made the D-II playoffs a year and each are expected to contend for the NSIC football title this year.  Todd Hoffner returns to coach the Mavericks after a tumultuous exit.  The game kicks off at 6 p.m. tonight.  In addition, Winona State opens its season with a road game at Northern State in Aberdeen, South Dakota tonight at 6 p.m.  The rest of the NSIC gets going on Saturday with a full slate of games.

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Five University of Minnesota-Duluth football players will miss Saturday's season opener after receiving one-game suspensions for taking part in an underage drinking party early Monday morning.  Some were docked scholarship money.  Two players were also stripped of their team captain positions.  Police estimated at least 75 people were at the party when officers arrived and 25 were UMD football players.  Head Coach Curt Weise did confirm the party was hosted by UMD football players.  UMD faces Concordia-St. Paul in Saturday's home opener.  Minnesota-Duluth is ranked No. 4 in the nation in NCAA Division II.

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WNBA Minnesota Lynx star Seimone Augustus says after losing in the Western Conference Finals in Phoenix, that each Minnesota player has no choice but to work hard individually during the offseason in order to return next year with a goal of getting back to the championship.  Minnesota is the defending WNBA champ, but lost the series finale Tuesday night 96-78, losing the series to Phoenix two-games-to-one.

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