Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have to be happy with their first intra-divisional series of the season after taking two of three from the Orioles.

The effort was strong even in Friday’s loss. New York’s lineup worked consistently good at-bats. The pitching, especially the bullpen, held tough after an elbow injury shut down Jonathan Loaisiga. Everyone’s role is slowly coming together, even as Aaron Hicks struggles to find his.

Divisional games might not matter as much anymore but don’t tell that to the Yankees. They entered this meaningless April series knowing full well they were better than Baltimore and should beat them handily.

Some takeaways:

The Bronx’s Bash Brothers. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were probably the co-MVPs of the series. Judge hit .400 with two home runs while Stanton hit .416 with a long homer of his own.

It’s hard to believe that this is Stanton’s sixth year in New York and injuries have still prevented both him and Judge from enjoying a full healthy season together. If 2023 proves to finally be that year, expect many more strong showings like these.

Vive la Franch. Franchy Cordero has proven a pretty useful lefty bat for the Yankees despite signing literally on Opening Day. The veteran journeyman is batting .357 as a Yankee and hit two clutch home runs in this first Baltimore series. Cordero has also provided a strong arm out of right field.

Ironically, Cordero spent spring training with the Orioles and hit .413 with two home runs before they released him. It’s hard to believe he’s playing this well for the Yankees and simply just passing through. Harrison Bader will also be back playing center soon and if you ask Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, that’s when the Yankees may need to choose between Cordero and the struggling Hicks.

You serious, Clarke? It’s starting to look more and more that Clarke Schmidt is better suited in the bullpen. The once-vaunted pitching prospect made his second Yankees start on Friday and struggled once again. Schmidt lasted just 3.1 innings again and allowed four runs on five hits.

What’s more concerning is left-handed hitters are batting .421 with a 1.395 OPS compared to righties, who bat just .182 wit ha .436. Jhony Brito pitched well again and both Luis Severino and Carlos Rodon should return soon. Schmidt’s leash is getting shorter with little room for mistakes.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.