NEW YORK — Aaron Hicks knew Yankees fans weren’t going to be kind in his return to New York, the good times they experienced together and the six playoff appearances no longer relevant to the unforgiving fan base.

The last time he was at Yankee Stadium in late May, Hicks was hitting just .188 with only one home run through 28 games. The Yankees released him, and the Orioles picked him up a few days later, needing a centerfield replacement with Cedric Mullins on the injured list.

Just like that, New York’s castoff became Baltimore’s treasure.

Hicks has thrived in his new environment. And on Tuesday, he quieted Yankees fans, albeit just for a second, after hitting a home run in the fifth inning. The boos quickly resumed as Hicks rounded the bases, with cheers following after fans threw the ball back onto the field.

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“It was like that when I was here,” Hicks said. “I don’t really know how to explain it better than it is what it is.”

Hicks’ home run started a three-run inning for the Orioles. Jordan Westburg followed with a double; then Adam Frazier hit a home run to tie the game. The Yankees, though, took the lead back an inning later to take the game 8-4.

The Orioles have now lost six of their last seven games, with the Yankees now only two games behind the Orioles for second place in the American League East. Baltimore only scored once outside of the third inning, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

“You play six months, you are going to have periods of not playing your best baseball,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We are in that period right now. Tough time the last couple of weeks.”

The Orioles aren’t pressed, though, and believe they can get back on the right track, just as Hicks did. In Baltimore, the change of scenery has been just what Hicks needed. He’s comfortable and happy, even sporting a beard and some fuzz on top of his head, things that would have gone against the Yankees’ strict appearance policy.

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It helps that he got into the lineup right away, the Orioles needing a sturdy player to man the middle of the outfield until Mullins was healthy.

There was no guarantee he would have a spot when Mullins returned on June 24, but with the way Hicks was playing, Hyde knew he had to find a way to keep him in the lineup.

Now, with Mullins back, Hicks has alternated between left and right field, a spot he hadn’t played since 2017.

“I feel like the whole time I was just fighting for playing time,” Hicks said of his time in New York. “To be able to come here and play every day, like I’ve been saying, has been a huge.”

Hicks’ effort Tuesday provided some support to pitcher Kyle Gibson, who labored through the first inning. Gibson walked leadoff batter Anthony Rizzo; then Gleyber Torres hit a home run of 436 feet. Gibson steadied himself some, making it through six innings. He gave up four earned runs and walked four.

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The game got out of hand in the bottom of the seventh, when the Orioles’ Nick Vespi gave up three earned runs. It was just Vespi’s second major league outing of the season; he previously pitched three shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins on June 30.

The Orioles’ bullpen, which has been much improved lately, also had a tough time on Monday, giving up four runs as the Yankees took game one of the series.

“We have five games to go until the All-Star break,” Hyde said. “We need to play these five games well. We have not played well in the last couple games here. They are playing way faster than we are. They are playing better baseball. We need to match that.”

danielle.allentuck@thebaltimorebanner.com

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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