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Hughes debuts for Twins in finale with White Sox

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Twins will rely on righty Phil Hughes on Thursday, as they try to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

After spending the first seven years of his career with the New York Yankees Hughes agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with the Twins this offseason. An All-Star in 2010, Hughes struggled mightily last season, going 4-14 with a 5.19 earned-run average in 29 starts and one appearance out of the bullpen.

"I'm pretty excited," Hughes said. "Obviously, first start of the year you always have some anxiety and jitters and stuff like that, and obviously being with a new team, I think that���s magnified a little bit."

Hughes, who pitched to a 4.74 ERA this spring, has thrived against the White Sox, though, as his 1.34 ERA in 11 games against them is his best against any team he's faced more than twice. He's also pitched well on the South Side of Chicago, where he's thrown to a 1.53 ERA in 17 2/3 innings.

"I think I've always felt pretty comfortable here," Hughes said of Chicago. "Being with the Yankees, we didn't come here all that often, so it wasn't like a ton of times I've pitched here. I've always felt pretty comfortable here for some reason or another."

Chicago, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Jose Quintana, who signed a five- year extension this offseason. Quintana went 9-7 with a 3.51 ERA, 164 strikeouts and a major-league leading 17 no-decisions over 33 starts in 2013, his second season with the White Sox.

Quintana set an American League record for no-decisions in a season with 17 in 2013.

Chicago improved to 2-0 on Wednesday, as it scored twice in the ninth inning to tie the game, then won it in the 11th when Leury Garcia scored on Samuel Deduno's wild pitch to give the White Sox a 7-6 victory.

Garcia led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a bunt single before advancing to second on a balk by Deduno. Garcia then moved to third on a wild pitch in the dirt, and Deduno sailed a 3-2 pitch to Adam Dunn outside and past catcher Kurt Suzuki, and Garcia scored without a play at the plate.

"A lot of things happened in that game, throughout the game. Some missed opportunities by us, some fundamental things we didn't get done. Ultimately you have the lead and you get the ball to your closer, you feel pretty good about it. It just didn't work out, couldn't finish the game off," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

Minnesota was 11-8 last season versus the White Sox.