Road warrior(s): Tanaka cruises with support

Yanks starter 3-1, 1.32 ERA away from home after 8 IP; bats help club improve to 20-5 at Target Field

Road warrior(s): Tanaka cruises with support

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Yankees have earned the right to play with a certain comfort level within the confines of Target Field, and Masahiro Tanaka has certainly felt right at home on the road this season.

Boosted by early run support, Tanaka locked in to limit the Twins' lineup to one run on seven hits over eight innings, leading the Yankees to an 8-2 victory in Minnesota. The win was the Yanks' 20th in 25 games at Target Field, including the postseason, since the facility opened in 2010.

"I think the ball was coming out of my hand really good, particularly the two-seamer," Tanaka said. "I think I was using that often, and it was working well for me."

The Yankees grumbled more than a few times early in the season about how they were wasting Tanaka's dominant starts, unable to provide the needed run support to turn those into victories. They atoned by thumping rookie left-hander Pat Dean for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings, including Carlos Beltran's two-run homer as part of a four-run first.

Beltran's two-run homer

"It was great. Tanaka has pitched real well," Beltran said. "It was good to be able to get those four runs in the first inning. After that, we continued to attack and were able to put up good at-bats."

Given the healthy cushion -- Rob Refsnyder and Didi Gregorius knocked in runs in the first inning, and Austin Romine's two-run double highlighted a three-run third -- Tanaka cruised to his fourth victory of the season and first since May 27 at Tampa Bay.

Romine's two-run double

"It's never easy," Tanaka said. "Especially early on in the game, it's kind of hard to get into a rhythm, hard to get into a tempo. Once I got into the rhythm, I felt I was doing a good job out there."

Tanaka improved to 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA and no homers allowed in seven road starts this season as Max Kepler's second-inning RBI groundout accounted for the only run off the hurler, who matched his season high in innings while striking out five and walking none.

"A lot of ground balls," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, he was ahead in the count. We turned a double play for him. He was really efficient. I thought he used all of his pitches tonight and did a good job."

The win guaranteed at least a split of the four-game series in Minneapolis, following another strong effort from CC Sabathia in Thursday's 4-1 win.

Sabathia's excellent start

"We thought that we would be all right going into the season," Tanaka said. "[The rotation] was never a question mark for us. If everybody lives up to their potential, we'll be fine. I think we're doing a good job right now."

Girardi said that he allowed Tanaka to reach 110 pitches because he was pitching on an extra day of rest, and he will have additional rest his next turn in the rotation as well. To Tanaka, the rest issue is overblown -- regardless of how many days elapse between starts, his approach is the same.

"I always go out there, go into the game 100 percent, I feel like," Tanaka said. "I don't think there's much difference there."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.