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Blue Jays enjoying early success in AL East

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BOSTON -- The Blue Jays entered Thursday's series finale at Fenway Park on the type of roll that hasn't been seen in Toronto for quite some time.

Toronto began the game in a tie for first place in the American League East with the Yankees. It marked the latest point of a season that the Blue Jays have either led or shared first place since they were a half game up on the Yankees on May 23, 2009.

The Blue Jays got to this point by winning seven of their last nine games and 12 of 17. It's way too early in the season to be watching the scoreboard for results elsewhere in the league, but it's still an encouraging sign for an organization that almost got buried in the standings because of a slow start in April 2013.

"I haven't really noticed it that much," manager John Gibbons said of the standings. "I keep an eye on where we're at, but it's not even June yet. But it comes down to, I think we've been playing good baseball the last few weeks and that's the important thing."

One of the main reasons for the recent performance has been the strong play of the offense. Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista homered in the first inning of Thursday afternoon's game, which marked the 24th time in 29 games the club has gone deep at least once.

There's an awful long way to go, but this is an organization that has grown accustomed to playing catch-up for the past several years.

"Too often at this time of the year, we're looking up a pretty good distance," Gibbons said. "So, we feel pretty good about that. We've had a couple of points this year we could have gone either way and start to disappear a little bit, but the guys have hung in there and hung around, so I feel good about that."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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