NEW YORK -- For Mark Reynolds, whirlwind is the best way to describe the last two weeks of his baseball career.
It has seen him go from idling after getting released by the Cleveland Indians, to introducing himself to the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry with a home run and then to eliminating a timing mechanism that he has had for his entire career.
That led to productive at-bats and also to the Yankees playing a hunch by starting him against a right-handed starter in a pivotal game against the Baltimore Orioles.
It was a move that worked for the Yankees Friday night as Reynolds had three hits, including an RBI double that sparked a five-run bottom of the fifth inning in an 8-5 victory.
"It's been a whirlwind," said Reynolds, whom the Yankees signed after he batted .220 in 110 games with Cleveland. "I'm happy to be here. It's been fun. I'm happy to contribute any way I can."
Reynolds was able to contribute in that way due to eliminating the toe tap he has had throughout his professional career. By doing so, he said it allows him to get better timing and reads on pitches.
It seemed to work before Friday as he entered with a .265 average after getting three hits Wednesday. He raised his average with New York to .304 (25-for-82) and had three hits in consecutive games for the first time in over four years.
"I'm getting my foot down earlier," Reynolds said. "We looked at video and figured some stuff out. I'm trying to basically get my timing earlier and recognize pitches and so far it's worked out."
Reynolds began his big night against his former team with a booming double off the left field wall against Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-7) that scored Curtis Granderson.
"It makes it fun," Reynolds said. "I have so many good friends over there. It's a bunch of great guys and last year we wanted nothing more than to beat these guys' tails in."
Reynolds was one of seven straight Yankees to reach in the decisive fifth, which lasted nearly 24 minutes. When the inning ending, the Yankees went from trailing 4-2 to being up 7-4 as Ichiro Suzuki hit a go-ahead two-run home run and Robinson Cano added a two-run double.
The start to Reynolds' productive night came an inning after Alfonso Soriano hit his 12th home run as a Yankee. Eleven of those home runs have been in August and he has six home runs in his last eight home games.
Normally Lyle Overbay would have started against a right-handed starter, especially since Reynolds came into the night with a .209 average against righties, but this is time of the year when managers often play hunches as opposed to numbers.
"He's a guy that can carry a club," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "That's the kind of power he has. I kind of went with a hunch. I like the way he's swinging the bat."
Girardi's other correct hunch was going to his bullpen earlier than he might have liked after CC Sabathia (12-11) allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. Sabathia threw 86 pitches before Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan and David Robertson combined on 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
The biggest out of that sequence occurred when Robertson retired Danny Valencia on a fly to the warning track in right field with two on for the final out of the eighth. After Robertson finished the eighth, Mariano Rivera pitched a hitless ninth for his 39th save.
"This is the time of the season where everyone is tired," Robertson said. "We just need to step up and find a way to dig through these tough outings."
The Orioles scored three runs in the fifth off Sabathia as Valencia hit a two-run home run. Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Chris Davis also drove in runs for Baltimore, which has dropped 11 of its last 17 games.
Gonzalez turned in his second-shortest outing of the season, allowing seven runs and six hits in four-plus innings. Before allowing Soriano's home run, he had not allowed a hit and before the fifth, he had retired 11 of the first 14 hitters he faced.
"It wasn't just Miguel tonight," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "He pitched as well as you'd want but couldn't get over the hump. Miguel has pitched well this year and he'll get another chance. It was just that one inning that got away from him."
"Miguel left a lot of balls where he didn't want to leave them," Markakis added. "But when our pitching is down the hitting has to pick us up, and when our hitting is down, our pitching has to pick us up."
NOTES: Baltimore acquired OF Mike Morse from the Seattle Mariners after claiming him off waivers Wednesday. Morse is expected to join the team Saturday and will be used as an outfielder/designated hitter or occasional first baseman. .... RHP Jason Hammel (right forearm strain) will make a second rehab start on Tuesday when he pitches for Single-A Aberdeen. ... Jeter and Rodriguez were in the lineup for the same game at Yankee Stadium for the first time since Game One of last year's ALCS against Detroit. ... Hall of Famer Yogi Berra was introduced to the crowd before the game as the Yankees held a promotional bobblehead day in his honor.