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 blasted past the Minnesota Twins 8-2, assuring that they'll head to a four-game series in Toronto with, at worst, a 1 1/2-game lead on the Orioles.
Ace CC Sabathia (14-6) struck out 10 in eight innings, and the Yankees broke the game open with a six-run third inning.
"This is what he can do," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia, who had 11 strikeouts in his previous start. "He can string a bunch of good ones together. And if there's a time, now's the time. His last two outings have been really good."
Sabathia has gone 10-0 in his last 11 regular-season and postseason appearances against the Twins.
"Oh, it feels good, to have good outings," he said, after throwing
89 of his 118 pitches for strikes. "We're in a race. We know it's going to be tough, so you want to go out and do well every time out."
Minnesota briefly led 1-0 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 outs in the second inning with irritation in his left eye.
"Sammy had a little trouble out there, and we were all watching it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They were throwing the ball back to him from first base and from the catcher, and he just kept looking like he was kind of dodging away from the ball, so we went out.
"As I'm walking out, the trainer says, 'There's no way I'm leaving him out there.'"
Brian Duensing entered, and he struck out Raul Ibanez to end the inning.
The Twins' troubles started 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.
"I don't know if I've ever warmed up on a field like that," Duensing said of his unusual entry to the game. "My job is to come in and try and shut it down, and I didn't do that. It's tough, mentally it's not easy to do."
The Yankees used their favorite weapon, the long ball, to tack on two more runs in the sixth. 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.
"In general, it feels like those early September woes are out the door," Swisher said. "I feel like we're playing our best ball now, and this is the perfect time to be doing that."
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 game. ... 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. He went 0-for-4 Wednesday, dropping his average to .323. ... 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.