The way they quickly made up ground in baseball's toughest division may have occasionally been lost amid the daily drama surrounding Alex Rodriguez, but the Yankees just might be the hottest team in the American League.
Since getting swept by the White Sox in Chicago two weeks ago, the Bronx Bombers have gone 9-3, pulling within one game of the Orioles for third place in the AL East after Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
New York is 6 1/2 games behind Boston and Tampa Bay in the division and five games out of a Wild Card spot, with Cleveland and Baltimore still standing between the Yankees and Oakland.
"I think we're kind of creeping [in the standings] a little bit, but we've got a long way to go, we've got a lot of games," infielder Jayson Nix said Tuesday. "I think each game is very important, and we know that."
For different reasons, each at-bat has become important for Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, sitting at 3,999 career hits between Japan and the United States. He had a chance Tuesday to collect No. 4,000, and he'll get a few more Wednesday against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, as the Blue Jays and Yankees square off in the Bronx.
"It's not just the 4,000; it's that you're getting a hit in a game," Ichiro said Tuesday. "If you don't produce, you're not going to play in games. Producing in games is what's good for me. Four thousand is just as important as any other number, for me."
On the other hand, the numbers haven't been on the Blue Jays' side at Yankee Stadium. Toronto fell to 0-8 at Yankee Stadium this season after losing both games of Tuesday's doubleheader. Dickey, who used to play a little farther southeast in Queens, will try to break Toronto's slide in New York on Wednesday.
Unlike last season, when Dickey ended up taking the National League Cy Young Award, the 38-year-old knuckleballer has struggled at times this year, going 9-11 with a 4.49 ERA.
The biggest obstacle this season has been the home run ball, as Dickey has allowed 27 this year, good for 1.4 homers per nine innings, up from 0.9 in 2012. On Friday against the Rays, the homer ball once again was an issue, as the veteran allowed a solo shot to Matt Joyce as part of a four-run night through seven innings.
Adam Warren, 25, will be toeing the rubber for the Yankees, and making just his second career Major League start. Warren made his only start on June 29 last season vs. the White Sox, and he was roughed up for six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings.
However, the young right-hander has proved more than capable as a reliever so far this season. Warren has a 3.57 ERA with 46 strikeouts over 58 innings this year out of the bullpen.
Yankees: Cano among exclusive company with 200 home runs
Robinson Cano entered exclusive company Tuesday.
Cano hit a three-run home run off of Esmil Rogers in the third inning of the Yankees' 8-4 victory in Game 1 of the club's doubleheader, marking his 200th homer as a Yankee.
"It means a lot," Cano said, who is now 16th on the all-time list in Yankees history. "As a kid, you always dream to be able to hit one. Then, to hit 200, it means a lot to me. Right now, we're in a situation where we need to win games. It's good to hit 200, but it's great to get a win."
"That's special," added manager Joe Girardi. "Two hundred home runs is a lot of home runs, and obviously, he's got a lot of career left in him. He had a big day, and he got us right back in the game with that three-run homer."
Cano finished the day 6-for-8 with five RBIs and a run scored, and he has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games. With 23 homers this season, Cano has reached the 20-homer plateau for a fifth straight season.
After the home run, Cano is just two shy of tying Bill Dickey (202) for 15th place on the Yankees' all-time list.
Blue Jays: Bautista lands on DL
• Jose Bautista was removed from Tuesday's day game with soreness in his left hip, also causing him to miss the club's nightcap.
Bautista left the game in the fourth inning, and he was later placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip bone bruise.
The 32-year-old outfielder originally sustained the injury while sliding during the club's 2-1 victory over the Red Sox on Thursday.
"His hip flared up on him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He felt it a couple of days ago and didn't think it was that big of a deal, so he was able to play. But standing around the outfield -- [enduring] all of those pitches -- aggravated it, so he went to go get it checked out."
Bautista is hitting .259 with 28 homers, 73 RBIs, 82 runs scored, and has an .856 on-base plus slugging percentage.
• Kevin Pillar finally managed to get his first hit in the big leagues in the nightcap of the club's doubleheader on Tuesday against the Yankees.
Pillar hit a single off of New York starter Phil Hughes into center field, stopping an 0-for-17 skid to start his Major League career.
It was the only hit the 24-year-old managed Tuesday, although he did drive in his first run during the afternoon game.
• The Yankees' dominance over the Blue Jays continued in Tuesday's day-night doubleheader. By taking both games, the Bombers improved to 10-1 on the season vs. Toronto.
• The Blue Jays have lost 11 straight games in New York, and are 11-33 all time at new Yankee Stadium.