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What's new: The Yankees have been atop the AL East since mid June but are 19-23 since July 18, with injuries seemingly catching up to them. 3B Alex Rodriguez has been on the DL since late July (he may return this week), 1B Mark Teixeira is out with a calf strain, and OF Curtis Granderson is questionable with a hamstring issue. But they lead the majors in homers, have patched together a solid bullpen without Mariano Rivera and are getting a great season from Derek Jeter, who leads the majors in hits.
Key stat: The Yankees have made the postseason the past 15 times they were in first place on Sept. 1 and have finished first in 39 of the 43 seasons when they led the division on Labor Day.
Connections: Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was the first Tampa Bay manager. RHP Rafael Soriano is a former Ray; RHP Cory Wade played at Triple-A Durham. Rays RHP Kyle Farnsworth and C Jose Molina wore pinstripes.
Series history: Rays lead 7-5 this season, 5-1 at the Trop; Yankees lead 155-95 overall, 70-56 at the Trop.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer