NEW YORK -- The Yankees enjoyed an offensive barrage to complete a three-game sweep of the O's with a 9-3 win on Thursday at Yankee Stadium. Jacoby Ellsbury had three of New York's 13 hits and finished a triple shy of the cycle, driving in four runs, and Chase Headley plated three.
With four runs in the first inning, one in the second and two each in the third and fifth, the American League East-leading Yankees climbed to a season-best 12 games over .500. The Orioles, on the other hand, dropped their fourth series since the beginning of July.
The Yanks jumped on O's starter Ubaldo Jimenez early, tagging him for seven runs and eight hits in just 2 1/3 innings, handing the right-hander his shortest outing of the season. Masahiro Tanaka picked up his seventh win of the season after working 7 2/3 innings of three-run ball.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hit 'em early, hit 'em hard: Scoring seven runs in the first three frames helped the Yankees get to Baltimore's bullpen early. After the first three Yankees hitters of the game reached safely, Headley cleared the bases with a two-out double. Didi Gregorius drove Headley in with a single, one of three for the shortstop on the day. Ellsbury added a home run in the second inning, and a Stephen Drew RBI double and sacrifice fly by Ellsbury in the third helped put the game away early.
"That's huge, when the order can do that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We got contributions up and down the lineup. … We've got all of our pieces back, and I think that's helping out."
Tanaka tames Orioles: Tanaka worked his way around three home runs to record his fourth consecutive quality start. After allowing the first of Baltimore's homers to Chris Davis in the second inning, Tanaka recovered to retire his next eight batters, taking the early lead and running with it. Two more home runs in the eighth inning knocked him out of the game, but Tanaka said he was satisfied with the result.
"The past three games, it's been gradually getting better," Tanaka said. "The goal is to get much better." More >
Long day for the 'pen: With Jimenez exiting early, the O's bullpen had its work cut out for it. Tommy Hunter was the first pitcher to relieve Jimenez and was followed by Bud Norris, Chaz Roe and Zach Britton. Norris ran into some trouble in the fifth, when Ellsbury doubled to score Headley and John Ryan Murphy.
"Sometimes he'll struggle a little bit and you'll think he's going to find his step, but he just really couldn't get into any consistent -- whether it's release point, delivery, I'm not going to get into that," O's manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez. "He just couldn't get the ball where he needed to get it." More >
That's more like him: In his 11th game back from the disabled list, Ellsbury finally looked healthy, enjoying perhaps his best game of the season. The center fielder scored a pair of runs and raised his average to .308.
"I think the All-Star break, in a sense, probably hurt him," Girardi said. "He had only played four or five games, and he had another four days off. Now that we're playing every day, he probably feels more comfortable." More >
Just not enough: In the second inning, Davis hit his 21st homer of the season to right-center field, his second in as many days. The homer brought the slugger's RBI total to 55. In the eighth, J.J. Hardy belted his sixth homer of the season over the left-center-field wall, and moments later, Manny Machado followed with a solo drive of his own.
"It's an up-and-down season," center fielder Adam Jones said. "The other day, we put up nine runs. Everybody: 'Oh, this offense is clicking.' Come here, we don't: 'Oh, the offense is struggling.' It's an up-and-down game, man. You've got to ride the rollercoaster, but mentally, we stay the same course."
Worth noting: A fourth-inning error originally charged to Brett Gardner in left field was changed after the game to a ground-rule double hit by Davis.
"What else are you going to do, dwell on it? Nah, man. That's not good for sports. That's not good for your [mentality]. We've lost three in a row before. Now let's go down into Tampa and clean it up." -- Jones, on getting over the sweep
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Tanaka picked up the 20th win of his Major League career, making him the first Yankees pitcher since Whitey Ford to win 20 of his first 33 starts. In the past 100 years, only Cal Eldred and Dave "Boo" Ferriss won as many of their first 33 starts.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Baltimore's road trip continues in St. Petersburg with a three-game series against the Rays starting on Friday night at 7:10 ET. The O's will start right-hander Chris Tillman (7-7, 4.96 ERA), who was terrific in his last outing, picking up the win with eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the Tigers.
Yankees: New York heads to Minnesota for three games with the contending Twins. Michael Pineda (9-6, 3.77 ERA) will start Friday's 8:10 p.m. ET opener, taking the hill against former Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes.