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at Yankee Stadium on July 22, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Series Recap: Yankees vs. Orioles

Get the brooms out! For the first time since the beginning of June, the Yankees swept a series, and a crucial one at that. They were able to distance themselves even further from the rest of the AL East, and now the pinstripes hold a 5.5 game lead after taking all 3 against the Orioles.

The first game was a 3-2 victory that saw the light-hitting Brendan Ryan come up big in the clutch. With the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the 6th, Ryan smacked an RBI double to score Didi Gregorius and lock up the outcome for the Yankees. Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen allowed 10 hits, but only 3 runs and he was able to pitch into the 7th inning.

The Yankees received contributions from Alex Rodriguez and Chase Headley in the first 2 innings to get their offense going. A-Rod hit a sac fly and Headley doubled to open up a 2-0 lead. Headley, Mark Teixeira, and Chris Young each had 2 hits to pace the Yankees, who went 1-10 with runners in scoring position but earned the victory anyway.

Nathan Eovaldi was decent for the Yankees, allowing 2 runs in 5.2 innings, but both runs came in the top of the 6th to tie the score. After departing with 2 runners on, Eovaldi was tagged for another run after Justin Wilson gave up the tying RBI single by JJ Hardy. Chris Young made a key defensive play by throwing out Matt Wieters at 3rd to keep the go-ahead run from threatening any further. Adam Jones had 2 of Baltimore’s 7 hits, and Andrew Miller earned his 21st save of the year for the Yankees.

The second game, also closely contested, was a 4-3 Yankees victory. They used a 3-run first inning to propel themselves to a win. In that 1st innings, Brett Gardner had an RBI single off of Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Teixeira followed with a 2-run homer, hs 24th of the year. Gausman went 6 and allowed just one more run on an A-Rod homer in the 5th. Teixeira stood out, like has done so many times this year, with 2 hits and 2 RBI.

The Orioles clawed their way back to a one-run deficit in the 9th thanks to a Chris Davis home run off of Miller, but he struck out Jonathan Schoop to end it. Baltimore’s only other runs came off of a Ryan Flaherty dinger in the 3rd. Ivan Nova pitched well for the Yankees, allowing just 3 hits over 6 innings. The Orioles were 0-5 with runners in scoring position.

An even bigger first inning helped the Yankees take the last game of the series 9-3. They tagged Ubaldo Jimenez for 4 runs in the first frame. Chase Headley hit a bases clearing, 3-run double to break the game open, then Didi Gregorius put the finishing touches on the inning with an RBI single. The Yankees scored in each of the first 3 innings and in 4 of the first 5 to take total control of the game. Even Stephen Drew, who is sporting a batting average below .200, hit an RBI double in the 3rd. Jimenez didn’t make it out of the 3rd inning and gave up 7 runs. Jacoby Ellsbury, Didi Gregorius, and John Ryan Murphy each had 3 hits, and Ellsbury drove in 4 runs to top the ballclub.

Masahiro Tanaka was masterful for 7.2 innings. He gave up just 5 hits and 3 runs, and struck out 7. The Orioles were never in this ballgame, as their first run came when they were already down 4-0 in the 2nd inning. All 3 of their runs came on solo shots by Davis, Hardy, and Manny Machado.

The Yankees are now on the verge of running away with the AL East. Let’s see who helped to make this sweep happen:

Offensive MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury- 4 RBI and 5 hits, including a homer and a double.

Offensive Slug: Alex Rodriguez- Couldn’t join in on the fun in the last game, just 1 hit in the series.

Pitcher of the Series: Masahiro Tanaka- pitched into the 8th inning on a day where the game was never in question.

Pitching Agony: Nathan Eovaldi- Earned the win, but couldn’t last 6 full innings on 99 pitches.