Updated at 1:05 a.m., Aug. 19, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS (WFAN/AP) — The New York Yankees have had no trouble sending balls in the seats this season, even with Alex Rodriguez’s power drop-off and injury absence.
CC Sabathia stopped his two-start losing streak with nine strikeouts over seven innings, and the Yankees hit three home runs to support him in an 8-4 victory over the depleted Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
“We have the ability to score runs in bunches,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s just the kind of offense we are, but a difference this year is that we have a lot more speed and we run a lot more.”
Sure, but the Yankees lead the majors with 163 homers this season, despite only 13 from Rodriguez, who has been out following knee surgery last month.
Mark Teixeira hit his 33rd, a two-run shot in the third, and Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones hit back-to-back deep balls in the fifth inning against Brian Duensing (8-12).
Jones sent his into the third deck above left field, an estimated 434 feet.
“I didn’t really see where it landed,” Jones said.
“I saw him hit it and I said, `This ain’t going to come down for a while’,” Swisher said, adding: “I can’t even hit 3-wood up there.”
Sabathia stumbled through his last two starts, but the Twins, with their patched-together lineup and recent struggles against the burly left-hander, were the right team to face. Despite giving up 10 hits for the third time in his last four starts, Sabathia raised his record to 8-0 in his last nine outings — including the postseason — against Minnesota. His ERA in that span is 1.72.
Sabathia (17-7) gave up four runs — three earned — and walked only one. Including postseason games, the Yankees improved to 60-19 against the Twins since 2002 and 20-3 over the last three years. They stayed a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East race.
“I felt good,” Sabathia said. “I kind of got back to slinging the ball.”
Joe Mauer played right field for the first time. Luke Hughes was late because he missed his flight from Triple-A, leaving the Twins without any healthy bench players at first pitch. The outfield of Rene Tosoni, Ben Revere and Mauer has four homers combined this season, compared to 34 for Curtis Granderson of the Yankees.
The Twins scored twice in the second, but Sabathia breezed through the middle innings — recording 10 outs in a row during one stretch — until surrendering three straight singles to start a two-run seventh. After Mauer’s sacrifice fly, but Justin Morneau flied out and Jim Thome grounded out to end the inning.
“That’s more than a lot of teams have done so far, but it wasn’t enough,” Morneau said.
The Yankees, still stinging from an umpire mistake in Kansas City the night before that gave the home team a home run that should’ve been a double during a 5-4 victory by the Royals, almost had another long ball call go against them in the first inning.
With Mauer on first base and two outs, Morneau sent one sailing over the seats in right field that was initially ruled a home run. Girardi argued, and a replay review turned it into a foul ball. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to disagree, and he was quickly ejected.
He argued that the video was inconclusive, with some angles showing the ball travel over the pole, which would be fair.
Morneau then struck out to end the inning, and boos echoed out from the sellout crowd.
“The only thing I saw was home run, but that’s life,” he said, adding: “Who knows what happens in the game after that, but it gives us a 2-0 lead and we’re still hitting in the bottom of the first.”
Duensing yielded 10 hits and six runs, finishing five innings.
“Their whole lineup, one through nine, is dangerous,” Duensing said. “They’ve got speed and power and they’ve got it all, and if you’re not sharp they’ll get you.”
NOTES: The Yankees still haven’t set their starting pitchers for the weekend. RHP Freddy Garcia, bothered by a cut on his index finger from what the team called a kitchen accident, must prove he can throw a bullpen session without a problem before he’ll be sent to the mound to face the Twins. Garcia last pitched Aug. 7. If he’s not able to start, he could go on the DL. A.J. Burnett would then go Saturday and Ian Nova Sunday. … Thome was honored before the game for his 600th career home run, hit earlier this week, with a video tribute and a pregame hug from A-Rod, a fellow member of the club.
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)