Gerrit Cole threw a seven-inning two-hitter in a 6-0 doubleheader opener, Luke Voit hit a pair of three-run homers in a 10-1 nightcap romp, and New York thumped Baltimore to win a pair of pivotal games.
DJ LeMahieu, Brett Gardner and Kyle Higashioka each homered in Game 1, and Masahiro Tanaka teamed up with two relievers on a four-hitter for New York in the finale of the doubleheader brought on by Thursday's rainout.
"I thought we played two really complete games, and I think we're going got keep it going," LeMahieu said.
The Yankees moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles for the AL's final postseason spot as the teams began a four-game series. New York had lost 15 of 21 coming in amid a rash of injuries, dropping to third place in the AL East behind Tampa Bay and Toronto. The Blue Jays fell 18-1 to the Mets, bringing the Yankees within a half-game of second place.
DJ Stewart put Baltimore ahead 1-0 with a solo homer in the first inning of the nightcap, but the Orioles fell apart after that. It started with the defense, which faltered when New York's baserunners turned up the pressure in the bottom half of the inning.
LeMahieu aggressively tagged up to take third on a flyout to left fielder Ryan Mountcastle, then scored on Clint Frazier's groundout to shortstop Jose Iglesias. LeMahieu might have been retired on either play with better throws. Voit then scored easily from second on Gleyber Torres' single when center fielder Cedric Mullins threw well wide of home.
"It wasn't our best inning defensively," Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said.
Miguel Andujar followed with a two-run double to make it 4-1 as New York chased rookie Keegan Akin (0-1) with two outs in the first.
Voit turned it into a blowout with homers in the fourth and fifth innings against right-hander Asher Wojciechowski. The beefy slugger tied Angels star Mike Trout for the major league lead with 16 homers.
"It's pretty cool, man," Voit said. "The guy's the face of baseball, best player in the game. It's pretty cool to have your name next to him."
This one's cool, too: Voit is the second Yankee to hit three-run homers off the same reliever twice in a game. The other was Babe Ruth, on June 21, 1929 against, Bill Shores of the Philadelphia Athletics.
"What an impact performer he's been," New York manager Aaron Boone said.
Voit has been dealing with a lingering foot injury and limped around the bases after both homers. He was replaced by Mike Ford at first base to start the sixth inning. Voit said the tape on his foot was wrapped a bit too tight.
"I have to be out there with the boys," he said. "And I'll do anything to grind through it."
Tanaka (2-2) allowed a run and three hits over five innings, striking out five on 91 pitches. Luis Cessa and Brooks Kriske each followed with a scoreless inning.
Cole struck out nine and walked one, taking advantage of an early lead after the trio of homers, all against starter Alex Cobb.
Cole (5-3) opened with 4 2/3 hitless innings before Hanser Alberto singled, although his effort wouldn't have counted as a no-hitter regardless because it was a seven-inning game.
Cole tied Cincinnati's Trevor Bauer for the major league lead with two complete games, and neither of Cole's lasted nine innings. The other was a rain-shortened, five-inning effort that beat Washington on opening night.
Cole had lost three straight starts for the first time since 2018, including an outing last Saturday at Baltimore. He's never lost four straight.
"It really just solidified in my mind about all the things, all the intangible things we thought we were getting when we signed him," Boone said about the way Cole handled the stretch.
Cobb (1-4) had been sidelined since Aug. 29 for undisclosed reasons. The right-hander said postgame he had a cold and stayed away from the team as a coronavirus precaution, although he didn't have COVID-19.
LeMahieu greeted Cobb with his fourth leadoff homer this season, tying the Cubs' Ian Happ for the major league lead.
New York clinched its 29th consecutive winning record at home (16-7), the longest streak in the major leagues since the Yankees set the record at 47 years from 1918-64, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez ended an 0-for-18 skid in the fifth inning of Game 2 with a single off the wall in right field.
"Everybody in this locker room knows the significance of this series," Stewart said. "It was a great opportunity for us, and we just didn't come out and execute today. But tomorrow is another day."
Boone, Gardner and general manager Brian Cashman visited the 9/11 Monument on Friday and laid a wreath on the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Yankees players and coaches wore NYPD and FDNY hats throughout the doubleheader, and a moment of silence was observed before Game 1.
Orioles: DH Renato Nunez was hit in the left hand by Tanaka's pitch in the second inning. His hand immediately began to turn black and blue, but he remained in the game. He was sent for X-rays. ... Cobb was added to the roster as Baltimore's 29th man for the doubleheader. Hyde said the team will demote a different player before Saturday.
Yankees: OF Aaron Judge (right calf) and DH Giancarlo Stanton (left hamstring) could report to the team's alternate site for at-bats this weekend, putting them on track to return to the lineup by next weekend. ... LHP James Paxton's status remains unclear following a setback in his recovery from a flexor tendon strain in his throwing arm. It's possible the 31-year-old could return as a reliever. ... Kriske was New York's 29th man.
Orioles RHP Dean Kremer (1-0, 1.50) goes for a repeat shutdown of the Yankees after he pitched one-run ball over six innings against New York in his major league debut last Sunday. He'll oppose Yankees LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-2, 5.27).
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Voit belts two 3-run homers
Luke Voit now has 16 home runs on the season after connecting on two three-run homers as the Yankees sweep the doubleheader with the Orioles.