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Yankees 8, Orioles 5: Bats Alive

This guy's face.
This guy's face.

The Yankees are back in sole possession of first place. Go nuts, everyone! It's been a long time in waiting! Those 24 hours without being alone in first felt like an eternity, but after some agonizing minutes, that's all over.

Obviously it's all sarcasm, except for the first place thing, but it's needed sarcasm. There hasn't been much to joke about for awhile now, but after a big night for the offense, there's a small window to laugh about the recent struggles. Given the time of the season and how competitive the stretch run figures to be, take the chances when you get them. There will be plenty of time for doom and gloom and excessive nail biting.

For a second straight night, the offense showed signs of coming out of their recent coma. The Yankees jumped out to a big lead behind home runs from Russell Martin, Steve Pearce and Alex Rodriguez. Martin ending the game above .200 two nights in a row and Pearce managing to be something other than a non-factor are reasons to celebrate on their own, but A-Rod's homer might be the biggest reason for jumping up and dancing out of sight of other people. It was a 400-foot glimpse of what the offense can look like if he stays healthy and productive. With Mark Teixeira on target to play tomorrow, feel free to hope tonight was more than a glimpse.

Phil Hughes held a streaking Orioles offense largely in check, giving up his only three runs on a long home run to Adam Jones. In yet another biggest game of the season, Hughes gave the Yankees six innings, allowing six hits, striking out five and walking none. Nothing spectacular, but they didn't need him to be. With a seven run cushion, all he had to do was keep the O's in the ballpark. Outside of the one mistake, he did just that.

Cody Eppley gave one back on a homer by Robert Andino, but the Yankees got it back a few innings later on a Derek Jeter single. Rafael Soriano gave up a one-out home run to Manny Machado to cut the lead to three, but was otherwise great. Since blowing a save against the Blue Jays, Soriano has looked great, albeit in only a few appearances. The only thing to really complain about is that their most reliable reliever is the closer when the bullpen has been a mess. You really have to be looking for something to complain about for that be an issue, though.

The Yankees won, they looked impressive, they're in first place by themselves again and it's Friday night. No need to keep people reading. It's a good night, go nuts.

Box Score. Math Class.

Play of the Game: Russell Martin's three-run homer (+25.1%)

CC Sabathia goes tomorrow against Joe Saunders.