MINNEAPOLIS -- Maybe Ron Gardenhire will decide against pitching to Robinson Cano in Wednesday's finale of this four-game series. The Yankees would be just fine if the Twins manager continues employing his current strategy.
Cano's torrid hitting showed no signs of slowing down Wednesday night as he had two hits, including a key two-run double, to help the Yankees rally for a 3-2 victory over the Twins in front of 38,457 at Target Field.
CC Sabathia, frustrated after his previous two outings, pitched seven strong innings, allowing two runs and seven hits and striking out seven to earn his 200th victory. The lefthander, now 200-108 in his career, threw a season-high 121 pitches.
"I don't know if it means anything right now," said the 32-year-old Sabathia, just the eighth pitcher since the expansion era (1961) to win his 200th game before turning 33. "I'll be ready in five days to go again and I guess try and get 201."
The lefthander, who received a game ball with "200'' written on it in black marker, did allow: "It feels good. Maybe one day I can look back and be excited but right now we're in the middle of a season still grinding."
Said Joe Girardi: "For CC, it's great. He's been huge for this organization."
Milestone aside, the story of the night for the Yankees (45-39), who have won three straight, again was Cano, now 9-for-14 with four homers and nine RBIs in his last four games after going 2-for-3 with a walk.
"Stay humble," Ichiro Suzuki jokingly said to a smiling Cano in the clubhouse afterward.
With runners at second and third and none out in the sixth, Gardenhire elected to have his starter P.J. Walters pitch to Cano instead of intentionally walking him to load the bases for Travis Hafner, 2-for-15 on this trip.
Cano fell behind 1-and-2 before sending a double into the gap in right-center to tie the score at 2. Lyle Overbay's sacrifice fly against lefty Caleb Thielbar gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
"I've been feeling the same way, it's falling now," Cano said of his hot streak. "And you know what? They're pitching to me, which is different."
Joe Girardi would not say whether he would have pitched to Cano in that situation, though obviously he was pleased the Twins (36-45), whom the Yankees have beaten 24 out of the last 31 times, chose to.
"I'm always happy to see Robbie hit, I'm always glad when he's up at the plate," Girardi said.
Speaking specifically of Gardenhire's decision, Girardi said: "Do you want to put the winning run on base? That's the bottom line . . . There's tough decisions managers have to make and hindsight's always easy . . . ''
David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth and Mariano Rivera, after allowing a one-out single, earned his 28th save in 29 chances, getting Joe Mauer to pop out to end it.
Cano, robbed of an extra-base hit in the eighth when centerfielder Aaron Hicks made a diving catch, is 14-for-24 on this trip.
After the Yankees gave Sabathia the lead, he held it, a problem at times this year, memorably last Friday in Baltimore when he took a no-hitter into the sixth but allowed three runs to put the Yankees behind 3-2.
"It was important to me to have shutdown innings," said Sabathia, who earlier said he felt "all over the place" in the early innings before settling down. "That's something I haven't been doing well lately."
Cano, of course, has been doing everything well lately, and Sabathia broke into a smile discussing the second baseman.
"It's fun to watch," said Sabathia. "He's so good right now and such a good hitter period, he's difficult to face."