NEW YORK -- Aaron Hicks led off the sixth inning with a tiebreaking homer into the Judge's Chambers in right field and then launched a two-run roundtripper in the seventh as the Yanks beat the Orioles, 8-2, to pick up their third straight win Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
Hicks has put up All-Star numbers as he fills in seamlessly for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out since May 24 with a concussion. Hicks now has 10 home runs this season, one short of his career high, to go along with his .318 batting average and 1.010 OPS, both of which rank near the top among American League outfielders.
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"He continues to shine, and he's been really helpful," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He believed in himself last year, but obviously he's having more success. He's been huge for us."
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Hicks has been so good that he has earned the chance to play even when Ellsbury returns. While Girardi won't call Hicks his full-time center fielder, he admitted it won't be easy to take him out of the lineup.
"He's going to play a lot," Girardi said. "He's going to continue to get a ton of at-bats."
Meanwhile, Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery kept the Orioles' offense in check for much of the night, setting career highs in strikeouts and innings pitched to pick up his fourth win of the season.
Montgomery's lone blemish came in the second, when he walked Chris Davis and left an 85-mph changeup out over the plate, which Jonathan Schoop ripped for a no-doubt home run into the left-field bleachers. It was the longest and hardest homer Schoop has hit this season, traveling a projected 454 feet with an exit velocity of 112.6 mph, according to Statcast™.
Orioles starter Dylan Bundy matched Montgomery's performance through the first five innings before Hicks' shot in the sixth. Second baseman Starlin Castro ripped a long ball to lead off the second inning, which Gary Sanchez followed with a rocket double off the center-field wall. Sanchez scored on a Chase Headley sacrifice fly to tie the score at 2.
Hicks' second home run came off reliever Edwin Jackson -- who allowed three unearned runs -- and the Yankees added their final two runs in the eighth against Stefan Crichton, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday after reliever Darren O'Day was placed on the 10-day disabled list.
"[Bundy] pitched well like he's been doing all year for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Once he got out of the game, we couldn't get much done."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hammerin' Hicks: Bundy was cruising through the middle innings before Hicks' first home run of the night. It traveled a projected 406 feet, which is his longest home run of the season, according to Statcast™, and it had an exit velocity of 104.6 mph.
Unlucky Trey: Third baseman Ruben Tejada, who started in place of the injured Manny Machado, doubled to lead off the fifth before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt. It was a prime opportunity for the O's to break the 2-2 tie with the Yankees' infield drawn in. They got the contact they wanted from Trey Mancini, but not the location, as he lined out to shortstop Didi Gregorius at 109 mph. Adam Jones struck out to end the threat.
"It makes me feel really good, getting off to a hot start. Especially not having a great year last year, I thought it was important to get off to a good start." -- Hicks
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Aaron Judge has been the exit-velocity king this season, but it was Sanchez who impressed with his second-inning double Friday. Sanchez's double came off the bat at 115.2 mph, the hardest-hit base hit of his career. Sanchez, Judge, Mark Trumbo, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo are the only players to hit multiple balls 115 mph or higher this season.
Orioles:Chris Tillman takes the ball for the Orioles on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET in the second contest of this three-game series against the Yankees. The right-hander is 4-4 with a 6.34 ERA lifetime in nine games at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees: Right-hander Luis Severino, who has a 1.37 ERA over his last four starts, takes the mound against the Orioles. Severino beat Tillman in an 8-3 Yankees win on May 30 at Camden Yards.
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