NEW YORK -- Beginning their important 10-game homestand, the Yankees beat the Orioles led by an offensive explosion that included a five-run, six-hit fifth inning.
WHAT IT MEANS: With the Rays and A's playing each other out west, the Yankees will pick up some positive ground in the wild card. They entered the night five back of Oakland and 5½ behind Tampa.
AND THEN ..: It was a slugfest. The no-hitters went out the window and the runs were aplenty. In the fourth, Sabathia gave up a run, but Alfonso Soriano quickly took it back by nailing a two-run homer. It was Soriano's 12th homer with the Yankees in his 32nd game.
MEMORABLE FIFTH: After Sabathia promptly returned the lead, allowing three runs in the top of the fifth, including a Danny Valencia two-run homer, the Yankees came right back as the first seven batters reached base, six of them on hits and one walk. The first four hitters against Gonzalez all went for extra bases.
Curtis Granderson and Mark Reynolds doubled for the first run. Ichiro Suzuki nailed a homer for the lead. It was Ichiro's first homer in 132 at-bats, his 2,727th major league hit, passing Chipper Jones on the all-time list for 57th place and it gave the Yankees the lead, 5-4.
That is all the Yankees would get as Soriano grounded out and -- with runners at the corners -- none other than Alex Rodriguez hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Thus, one of the most explosive innings of the season ended in boos.
ISSUES: Sabathia again was not good. Every time the Yankees gave him in the lead, he tried his best to hand it back until Joe Girardi had finally seen enough. Sabathia (12-11) had allowed a run in the sixth and recorded two outs when Girardi agave him the hook. Sabathia left with the victory in hand, but he didn't earn it.
A-ROD WATCH: In the seventh, against Francisco Rodriguez, A-Rod smacked an RBI single to left to extend the Yankees lead to 8-5.
REYNOLDS HOT: Reynolds had three hits. He now has six hits in past eight at-bats.
YOGI BOBBLEHEAD: It was Yogi Berra Bobblehead Night at the Stadium. During the pregame, Berra, 88, was driven around the exterior of the field in a golf cart. When he arrived behind home plate, he was presented with the figurine. You could imagine Yogi saying something like, "It looks just like me but smaller."
ONE MO: Mariano Rivera picked up his 39th save.
ON DECK: I'll be writing about the explosive fifth, while Mike Mazzeo will try to figure out the latest on Sabathia's struggles.