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Ellsbury not attributing hot streak to leading off

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DETROIT -- Jacoby Ellsbury has found one of his best hot streaks of the season, but the Yankees' center fielder won't connect the dots between those good recent swings and a return to the leadoff spot.

With Brett Gardner hobbled by a sore right ankle, Ellsbury batted leadoff for the fourth time in five games on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the Yankees' 8-4 win over the Tigers. He is enjoying a 17-for-38 (.447) tear.

"He's done a good job there, and there was never a question what kind of job he would do in that spot," manager Joe Girardi said. "Gardy did a great job. It was just, I put him there because Gardy was hurt, and he's done a good job."

Ellsbury, who entered Wednesday having hit three homers in the Yankees' prior two games, said that he was also feeling comfortable hitting third and hasn't felt much different since coming back to the top of the lineup.

"I think that first at-bat may be the only one, trying to see how the pitcher throws that day, see what he has," Ellsbury said. "But after that first one, as the leadoff hitter, you're kind of in the flow of the game. It doesn't really affect you."

"He's a great player that's going to have really good streaks," Girardi said. "You could say since I put him in the leadoff spot he's hitting for more power. It's a small sample, so I don't make too much of it."

Gardner returned to New York's lineup on Wednesday, batting eighth, and went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

"I was happy with the way it felt," Gardner said. "Obviously there's still a little discomfort, but I felt pretty close to full speed, so I was happy with it."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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