Twins pitcher Phil Hughes doesn’t know the reason, but there is no comparison between the former Yankee’s record at this time last year and what it is after beating the White Sox 6-1 on Wednesday, allowing one run on six hits with five strikeouts over eight innings.

In the month of June, Hughes has seen his ERA drop from 4.96 to 4.19. In 15 starts this season, Hughes is 6-6 with 46 earned runs in 98⅔ innings. He has walked just nine batters while striking out 60.

Those numbers are far from the work he put in last season, his first with the Twins, when he was 8-3 through 15 starts with a 3.40 ERA with 36 earned runs in 95⅓ innings pitched. He had walked the same number of batters, nine, but had 82 strikeouts.

Still, Hughes said that without question he feels like his game is coming into form.

“I’m trending the right way. Obviously last year was a good year for me, and I came out of spring training with a lot of high expectations to repeat that and so far it hasn’t gone the way I would like,” he said Wednesday. “But the last three or four starts have been an encouraging sign for me that I’m kind of back on the right track. This is a team, and we’re a good club, and I want to be there and give our guys a chance to win every five days in the second half. Forget about what the numbers say from last year to this year and focus more on what I’m going to do in the future. You know, I think if I kind of just block out the negative, block out what’s happened, I can be pretty good for us.”

While the Twins are just 7-8 in Hughes 15 starts, they are 7-3 over his past 10.

Does he feel like he’s getting into last year’s form?

“I sure hope so,” Hughes said. “Stuff-wise it hasn’t been what I wanted, but the results are what really matter and winning ball games are what really matter. I’ve had a couple good ones in a row and today’s was especially big against a guy like [Chris] Sale, who can really shut you down. We have an off-day[Thursday], enjoy that, and hopefully this kind of sparks us through the road trip.”

Taylor likes prospects

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor talked about his excitement about this upcoming season and the Wolves landing the No. 1 draft choice, and said that, in his mind, the team should contend for the playoffs.

“I think that we can be good enough to put as our goal to get into the playoffs,” said Taylor, who also owns the Lynx and Star Tribune. “I think that’s an expectation we should have. We’re going to be young, but we should be good.”

Meanwhile, Taylor said that he was thrilled with the new Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis, formerly Block E. It houses the basketball staff along with a practice facility and a medical staff that will help players for the Timberwolves and Lynx stay healthy.

“I never dreamed of this, but thank goodness we had other people on our staff who dreamed of it, and once they saw the opportunity they went for it, and we got it done,” he said. “I think it will build the morale up. I think it will help us keep players here offseason to practice more on their own because they’ll have a really nice facility to practice in. They can have three meals a day here, right here, you’ll see that on the tour. I think it will keep them closer.”

Saunders on Russell

The Timberwolves definitely will draft Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns with the No. 1 overall pick in today’s NBA draft.

The 7-foot Kentucky All-America has been No. 1 on their list from the day they won the draft lottery. If they hadn’t won the lottery they would have tried to trade in every possible way to get him. The Wolves liked Duke center Jahlil Okafor, but their scouting reports indicated that Towns definitely is more ready to step in and play immediately in the NBA.

Still, the player that I think was hardest to pass up for Flip Saunders, president of basketball operations and head coach, is Ohio State freshman guard D’Angelo Russell.

Minnesota fans will remember that he torched the Gophers for 27 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in a 74-72 overtime victory last Jan. 6 at Williams Arena. Saunders remembers it, too.

“I was at that game,” he said. “I was more impressed with his passing than even his scoring. Even when he plays, he has a great feel. He plays at a great pace, a change of pace, and he’s a very unselfish player. The way he plays at sometimes, people have questioned his athleticism because they don’t know how athletic he is, but that’s just the way he plays. He plays very much under control, kind of takes what they give you.

‘‘He’s going to be one of the top guys taken, whether it’s one, two, or three, I don’t see him falling past that. It will come down to a tough evaluation with all three or four of the guys we’re looking at.”

So while Towns is the projected pick for the Wolves, that doesn’t mean that the decision was an easy one, especially given Saunders’ love for scoring point guards.


• Gophers men's basketball coach Richard Pitino says that the team naturally had to take the doctor’s advice on whether or not Jarvis Johnson was physically able to play basketball. But even though the DeLaSalle star with a heart condition is enrolled in school, Pitino said that if Johnson wants a release, and finds a school that would allow him to play, he would grant it.

Thaddeus Young, whom the Timberwolves traded to Brooklyn for Kevin Garnett, opted to become a free agent. And he might have opted out with the Wolves too, so all Minnesota lost was the future first-round pick they gave up to acquire Young.

• After allowing six runs, five earned, in the White Sox’s 6-1 loss on Wednesday, Sale is now 1-3 against the Twins this season with a 6.46 ERA, compared to 5-1 against the rest of the major leagues with a 1.88 ERA. ... The Twins’ attendance through 40 games this season is just over 1.06 million, or 26,563 per game, while last season it was just over 1.09 million, or 27,226 per game.

• Former Gophers guard Austin Hollins announced this week that the Brooklyn Nets have invited him to be a part of their summer league team. … Overseas, former Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe helped lead Brose Baskets Bamberg to a five-game series win over Bayern Munich in the Beko BBL Championship in Germany. Mbakwe was the leading scorer with 20 points in the 88-84 victory. He averaged 10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in the regular season.

• Former Twins outfielder Chris Colabello hit a go-ahead home run for the Blue Jays in their 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Colabello is now hitting .343 with six home runs, 11 doubles, 27 RBI and 30 runs scored in 44 games this season.


Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.