NEW YORK -- The Yankees can only play the game on each day's schedule, and while no one seems to be taking the first-place Indians lightly, the Bronx Bombers still haven't quite erased their last series from the rearview mirror.
In a lot of ways, the fight they showed against Cleveland on Friday was an outlet for atonement, having made the luxurious confines of Yankee Stadium far too hospitable to visitors over the past week.
Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez homered to support Ivan Nova's strong start, and tempers flared after an early Mark Teixeira hit-by-pitch as the Yankees pounded the Indians, 11-7.
"I'm not sure if a message was sent or not," Rodriguez said. "I thought those guys are coming in here -- no matter who we're playing; forget who we're playing -- you can't have teams be so comfortable against us."
Still smarting from a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox in which six Yankees were hit by pitches, New York finally had enough when Cleveland's Fausto Carmona struck Teixeira in the upper back with a fastball.
The plunking had suspicious timing, coming immediately after a Granderson homer gave the Yankees a four-run lead. Teixeira spiked his helmet and started toward the infield grass before being intercepted.
"It's disappointing when you have a guy who gives up a long home run and is getting hit around a little bit and decides to throw one close to your head," Teixeira said.
Carmona and Teixeira never got close to jawing, but managers Joe Girardi and Manny Acta did, needing to be separated by umpires.
"I didn't have the first words, but I had some words," Girardi said. "I thought he hit him on purpose, and I didn't like it."
Acta explained: "It's normal baseball stuff -- heat of the moment. He was defending his guy and I was defending my guy. It's quite simple."
In the end, no one was ejected, but the point was made clear. Girardi said he didn't know if the Red Sox were throwing at the Yankees, but he had a pretty good hunch that Carmona had been.
"I can't tell you 100 percent, but it's as sure as I can get -- because of the way he pitches," Girardi said. "His changeup runs away, his fastball runs away, and all of a sudden a guy gets hit in the middle of the back after a home run."
Acta pointed out that Carmona's command wasn't exactly pinpoint -- he'd finish throwing 45 of his 93 pitches for strikes.
"My goodness -- the guy couldn't throw 50 percent [strikes]," Acta said.
Teixeira -- who feared a fractured right kneecap after being hit with a Jon Lester cutter on Tuesday -- got the last laugh against Cleveland in the seventh, ripping a three-run double off Chad Durbin.
The Yankees put an early lead in Nova's pocket with a three-run first off Carmona, as Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada had RBI singles and Nick Swisher lifted a sacrifice fly.
Rodriguez connected in the fourth off Carmona for his 625th career homer, a solo blast that landed in the left-field bleachers, estimated at more than 450 feet from home plate.
"Unfortunately, it only counts for one," said Rodriguez, who added an RBI double in a four-run seventh. "But any time you can add some runs and get some hits, it's good to end up in winning fashion."
Nova cruised to his first victory since May 17, limiting the Indians to two runs on four hits over seven innings, finishing with an even 100 pitches.
"I feel good," Nova said, with a beaming grin. "I feel like I want to laugh. I don't want to sleep. I want to stay laughing the whole day."
Michael Brantley knocked in Matt LaPorta with a fifth-inning fielder's choice, and Carlos Santana popped a solo sixth-inning homer into New York's bullpen. Nova walked three and struck out six.
"I think it was important after what we went through the last few days," Girardi said.
The Yankees tacked on another run in the sixth off Frank Herrmann, as Granderson doubled, took third on a double steal and scored on a throwing error by the catcher Santana.
New York batted around in its seventh-inning outburst, which included career hit No. 2,991 -- a double -- by Derek Jeter, pushing the Yankees' captain into single digits in his quest to log 3,000 hits.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, Cleveland's hitters took advantage of an inexperienced bullpen to close what was at one point a nine-run deficit.
The Tribe scored five runs in the last two innings against the Triple-A trio of Kevin Whelan -- making his Major League debut -- Amauri Sanit and Lance Pendleton.
"I don't want to judge these guys too quickly," Girardi said.
Patience is a virtue, but considering Thursday's late rain-delayed start and the frustration of the Boston sweep, even Girardi had seen enough -- Mariano Rivera was summoned for the final two outs.
"I thought tonight was a good way to answer back because the last three games at home were very embarrassing for us," Rodriguez said. "It's really not acceptable for us to play that type of baseball."