MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite the New York Yankees position in the heart of a dramatic playoff race, they provided little in the way of drama on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
Battling Baltimore for the AL East crown, the Yankees assured that they'll head to a four-game series in Toronto with, at worst, a 1-1/2 game lead on the Orioles, after blasting past the Minnesota Twins 8-2.
Ace CC Sabathia (14-6) struck out 10 in eight innings, and the Yankees broke the game open with a six-run third inning.
Minnesota led 1-0 lead in the second when Ryan Doumit singled, advanced to second on a Chris Parmelee groundout, and scored on Matt Carson's seeing-eye single to center.
Twins starter Samuel Deduno, who has a 4-1 record at Target Field,
lasted just 30 pitches, striking out two of the six Yankees he faced before leaving with two out in the second with irritation in his left eye.
Brian Duensing relieved, and struck out Raul Ibanez to end the inning.
The roof fell in after Chris Stewart grounded out to start the third. The next seven Yankees reached base, and six of them scored. The biggest blows were Robinson Cano's bases-loaded double that scored Chris Dickerson and Ichiro Suzuki, and Curtis Granderson's triple into the right-field corner, which scored Cano and Nick Swisher. In all, 11 Yankees batted and the Twins lifted Duensing (4-11) before the inning ended.
The Yankees used their favorite weapon, the long ball, to tack on two more runs in the sixth. Raul Ibanez led off with a double, then trotted
home when Dickerson blasted his second homer of the season off the upper deck facing in right field.
Cody Eppley pitched a scoreless ninth inning for New York, allowing only Chris Herrmann's first major-league hit, an infield single. The Yankees have the quartet in Toronto and a three game home series with the Red Sox remaining.
NOTES. The biggest pregame ovation came when Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Love, who was a member of the gold medal-winning Team USA in the London Olympics, took to the mound wearing classic Converse basketball sneakers and high socks. ... Alex Rodriguez was scratched from the Yankees lineup as a precaution due to a bruised left foot. Rodriguez fouled a ball off his foot during Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Twins. ... With the team well out of the playoff race, Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan admits that Joe Mauer's pursuit of a fourth career AL batting title is pretty much all the Twins have left to cheer for. "It's more about team in baseball, but when you're in a position like where we are, you start rooting for things like that to happen, and I hope it does," Ryan said. "This guy's had a good year, he's been on the field and he's been consistent. We've got to have something to play for, and that gives you a little bit more interest in this club." Mauer previously won batting titles in 2006, '08 and '09. ... Yankees infielder Eric Chavez touched third base for a force out of Jamey Carroll in the fifth inning, then began to jog off the field with the ball. He was halfway to the Yankees dugout before realizing there were only two outs in the inning.