Yankees return to top spot as AL East powers assert themselves

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Alex Rodriguez has a strained hip flexor that forced him to miss four games and return to the lineup only as the designated hitter. Mark Teixeira continues to hit below .230. A.J. Burnett has lost three straight starts during which time he's given up 16 runs in 16 innings.

And yet the Yankees march on. Winners of 12 of their last 16, they've been led by second baseman Robinson Cano, an early MVP candidate batting a major-league leading .370 with team highs in home runs (14) and RBIs (48). He's hit .400 with four homers during the club's recent hot streak, allowing New York to vault back to the top spot in the Power Rankings for the first time since April 22. Over that same time frame, the Rays have gone just 7-8, squandering their 4 1/2-game lead in the American League East. They're now tied with the Yankees, who return to No. 1 by virtue of their hot play, the best winning percentage in the majors since May 30.

Meanwhile, Boston is surging too, going 11-5 over the same time frame, closing the gap to just three games behind New York and Tampa Bay. And so not unexpectedly, as the season reaches 40 percent completion, the AL East triumvirate is demonstrating why they play in the baseball's best division, as all three join this week's top five.

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