The New York Yankees have taken control of the AL East, and they don’t look like they want to let go of it anytime soon


Since a 21-21 record and last-place standing in the division on May 21, the Yankees won 23 of 30 games, including a 17-5 mark in their first 22 games in June. After Monday’s 7-1 win over Cleveland, the Yankees were 44-28, three games in front ofBaltimorein the AL East.

The Yankees are living up to their “Bronx Bombers” nickname, leading the majors with 115 home runs going into Tuesday’s game. Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Dewayne Wise went deep against the Indians.

“Everything’s just real chill right now,” Swisher said. “Everything’s just real mellow. We’re having a good time.”

The Yankees pitching hasn’t been bad either.New York’s starters were 13-4 through June 25, and at one point, they had pitched at least six innings in 19 consecutive games.

Ivan Nova (9-2) and CC Sabathia (9-3) are the team leaders in wins. Phil Hughes won three straight this month; Hiroki Kuroda has turned things around since a rough start, and Andy Pettitte has given the Yankees depth since his return to the rotation last month.

The long ball has played a major part in the Yankees recent success, which included a 10-game winning streak. They hit four homers in a 9-1 win over the Mets, two by Cano; Russell Martin smacked a pair in a 5-4 victory over the Mets; Alex Rodriguez hit his 23rd career grand slam to tie Lou Gehrig’s record in a 6-4 win atAtlanta, and Curtis Granderson and Cano hit homers in a 4-1 victory atWashington.

During their streak, the Yankees swept three straight series of three or more games for the first time since 1998.

And it seems no matter who they face, the Yankees are getting the job done. They scored five runs on five hits on Sunday night against  Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (11-1), who came into the game with a streak of two straight one-hitters. Swisher hit a three-run homer and Cano’s blast in the eighth was the difference in a 6-5 win.

“We feel like we can beat everybody,” Yankees’ 1B Mark Teixeira said. “When people say, ‘You can’t beat him,’ we go, ‘OK, we’ll prove you wrong.’ It’s kind of fun.”

Byrd suspended 50 games: Outfielder Marlon Byrd has been suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for Tamoxifen, a drug on MLB’s banned list of substances.

Byrd played for both the Cubs and Red Sox this season, and was released byBostonearlier this month. He is a career .278 hitter with 82 home runs and 445 RBIs in 11 years with five teams. His best season was in 2009 with the Rangers, when he hit .283 with 20 homers and 89 RBIs.

“Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball,” Byrd said in a statement. “Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test.

“I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a club win later this season.”

StatsWatch: Here are the starting pitchers with the most complete games this season (through Monday) —

  • Justin Verlander, Tigers, 4
  • R.A. Dickey, Mets, 3
  • Jake Peavy, White Sox, 3
  • Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays, 3
  • Matt Cain (and six others), Giants, 2

Quotable: “I’m just tired of dealing with the drama here. Look around, bro. Playing here used to be so much fun.” — Red Sox DH David Ortiz, on the media-generated drama surrounding the team.

Diamond Notes: In Arizona’s 14-10 win over Seattle last week, Ryan Roberts’ inside-the-park homer was the eighth in franchise history, and the first time that the Diamondbacks hit six home runs in the same game…Rays’ starter Joel Peralta was suspended for eight games for having pine tar on his glove in last week’s game against Washington…The Red Sox sent 3B Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox in a trade on Sunday. Youkilis, a member of two World Series championship teams with Boston, was hitting .233 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 42 games. The White Sox sent utility man Brent Lillibridge and recently demoted starting pitcher Zach Stewart to the Red Sox…Miguel Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP, requested and was granted his release from the Orioles after playing in 36 games at Triple-A Norfolk. Tejada hit .239 for the Giants last season before being released in September…Toronto has signed LHP Jamie Moyer, 49, to a minor-league contract, and he will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. Moyer started the season withColorado, where he went 2-5 with a 5.70 ERA and became the oldest pitcher to win a game in the major leagues. After his release from theRockies, he signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles before getting released this month.

Copyright © 2012  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media. 

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