There's little doubt that the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees have established themselves as the top teams in the AL East, the division New York reclaimed last year after the Rays won it in 2008.
They also may be the two best clubs in baseball.Tampa Bay can bolster its early lead on the Yankees and extend its latest winning streak to five on Wednesday night, but to do so the Rays will need to end a string of six straight losses in the Bronx.New York (25-14) has begun defense of its World Series title in strong fashion only to be overshadowed by the Rays, who are the only team in the majors with a better record.Tampa Bay (28-11) dropped two of three to the Yankees at home from April 9-11, but manager Joe Maddon's team -- already with a three-game lead -- has a chance to make a statement in New York before beginning interleague play."It's going to be fun going up there, as it should be," said Maddon, whose team has gone 15-4 on the road in 2010 but was outscored 31-12 while losing its last six in the Bronx last season."You want to be on the top. You want to play the best teams. You want to play in the best division. I think it's great," Maddon added. "Our guys will be ready for it. Our game's a pretty good game right now. We haven't hit to our potential yet, but we've been doing everything else."Brilliant pitching has been the foundation of the majors' best start since Boston was 28-11 in 2002. David Price and four relievers held Cleveland to six hits in a 6-2 win Tuesday, lowering Tampa Bay's team ERA to 2.69 -- the best in the AL.Wade Davis (3-3, 3.38 ERA) has played a role, although the rookie will be trying to avoid a third straight loss. He has held Oakland and Seattle to three runs each in his last two starts, but has gotten minimal run support in that stretch.Davis has yet to pitch at Yankee Stadium, but New York has already beaten him twice in St. Petersburg, with Davis posting a 5.73 ERA in the two outings."I just want us to play the same kind of game we've been playing to this point," Maddon said. "I don't like to say: `We're playing the Yankees, you've got to play a better game.'"The Rays, however, have had major problems figuring out the Yankees' scheduled starter.A.J. Burnett has won four straight starts against Tampa Bay and is 6-0 with a 1.76 ERA in his last seven. He held the Rays to two runs in seven innings of a 7-3 win April 11.Burnett (4-1, 3.31) did not factor in the decision Friday night against Minnesota, although he worked 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs -- two earned -- in an 8-4 win.The banged-up Yankees will try to regroup quickly after squandering a 5-0 lead in Tuesday's 7-6 home loss to Boston, with Mariano Rivera allowing a go-ahead hit for the second straight outing. New York fell to 13-4 at Yankee Stadium and will now try to avoid its first back-to-back losses there.The team remained without Nick Swisher (biceps) and Jorge Posada (foot) on Tuesday, and Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson are on the disabled list.The Yankees still enter this series leading the majors in runs (225) and on-base percentage (.365). Alex Rodriguez has led the way lately, going 8 for 20 (.400) with two homers and nine RBIs in five games on this homestand.Rodriguez is 3 for 6 (.500) with a homer against Davis.