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In first place, Yankees get help from everyone

The New York Yankees, winners of 19 of 21 and an eclectic collection of experience and youth, are constructed from farm teams and free agency, Japan and the junk heap.

They are off to a major league-leading 20-6 record _ the Yankees' best start in 40 years.

After routing Kansas City 10-1 Sunday, New York moved into exclusive territory _ no Yankees team had captured 19 of 21 since the pennant-winning club of 1977.

"They're very talented and they're playing very well," Kansas City manager Tony Muser said. "They're scoring runs, they're pitching well and their bullpen is good. It's a very fine team."

Former Cy Young winner David Cone will start against the Rangers today, trying to keep alive what he admits has been an "incredible run."

"We have speed, offensively and defensively. We've been making things happen," Cone said. "It's been somebody different every night."

Unlike many Yankees teams of the past, this one is fast. It leads the majors with 44 stolen bases.

They're also strong. In the past five games, they've hit 11 home runs, the most impressive being Darryl Strawberry's 435-foot grand slam Saturday against the Royals.

"To be honest, this team is very unique in a lot of ways," said second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, acquired from Minnesota. "When we were on an eight-game streak earlier in the year, nobody was getting too happy or out of control. We lost that ninth game, and then everybody came to the park the next day and went right back to work. There was such a good, positive attitude in the clubhouse."