CLEVELAND -- After what might have been the nastiest of CC Sabathia's 11 strikeout sequences on Tuesday, Curtis Granderson glanced over to left field and gestured to teammate Brett Gardner, as if to say: "Is he for real?"
On a night when Derek Jeter moved two hits closer to 3,000 and Granderson homered twice, it was Sabathia who loomed largest, continuing one of his best grooves with the Yankees in a 9-2 victory over the Indians.
"I was like, 'That's just not fair,'" Granderson said. "It was amazing to watch him go out there."
The pitches Granderson marveled at were delivered in the fourth inning, when Sabathia tied up Travis Hafner with a 97-mph fastball for strike 2 and then snapped off an 86-mph slider in the dirt for the strikeout.
Not fair, indeed. Sabathia struck out 10 or more batters for the second time in as many starts and the 25th time in his career, shutting out the Tribe on five hits over seven innings to pick up his Major League-leading 12th win.
"My velocity has been a little better of late," Sabathia said. "Maybe my fastball is getting on them a little better than it was earlier in the season. The location has been there. I just go with it."
Sabathia won his fifth straight start and is 9-1 in his last 10 efforts, making his snub from the American League All-Star team look a little bit silly.
Truth be told, Sabathia had a trip booked with his family to the Bahamas for the break, and he wasn't all that broken up when Rangers manager Ron Washington cobbled together a staff without his name. But Sabathia still seemed completely deserving.
"I believe CC is an All-Star; he's had a great first half," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I've been in that situation. It's a tough situation when you're having to pick players from every team. But I think CC -- and, I believe, David Robertson -- are two All-Stars."
The Yankees batted around for a five-run second inning against Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, taking advantage of an errant throw to first base that prolonged the inning and opened the floodgates.
Nick Swisher scored as first baseman Carlos Santana couldn't handle a one-hop throw from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, looking to complete what could have been an inning-ending double play on a Francisco Cervelli grounder, with assistance from a hard Gardner slide into second base.
Jeter had legged out an infield single in his first at-bat, and with the inning continuing, the captain ripped a more convincing hit his second time up -- a booming two-run double to center field that scored Jorge Posada and Cervelli.
"I felt better today," Jeter said. "It's always good when you get the first [hit] out of the way. You feel like it's Opening Day all over again. Once you get the first one out of the way, I could relax a little bit."
Jeter's first hits since being activated from the disabled list place him four hits shy of becoming the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club; he's sitting on 2,996 going into Wednesday's series finale in Cleveland.
"I'm well aware of how many," Jeter said, "because I've been sitting on six for three weeks."
Granderson then hooked a two-run homer inside the right-field foul pole and dug in two innings later to slug a solo homer, highlighting the six runs and 10 hits of damage New York claimed against Carrasco.
The shot, his 25th, tied Granderson with Mark Teixeira for the club lead and moved the center fielder past his 2010 total by one roundtripper. Granderson's career high is 30, set in 2009 with the Tigers.
"Each year has always been different," Granderson said. "It's just one of those things that this year has been different than last year. They're just coming a little bit quicker than they have in the past."
That was all plenty for Sabathia, who came off a career-high 13 strikeouts in his last start against the Brewers, traveling to Cleveland to dominate his other former club.
"That second inning pretty much did us in," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That's too big of a lead for a guy like CC for us to overcome, especially the way he was throwing the ball."
Sabathia struck out three batters in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, limiting Cleveland to five hits -- and only one for extra bases.
Cleveland's only two runs were scored in the ninth off Lance Pendleton, after three Yankees runs came in against Chad Durbin in the eighth.
Sabathia said that his collection of strikeouts was just a byproduct of good pitches.
"That's always my goal, not trying to strike guys out," Sabathia said. "Maybe get a double play, things like that; we had a pretty good lead. I was just trying to get ground balls and get outs, and we ended up getting strikeouts."
The outing made Sabathia the first Yankee since Tommy John (1979, '80) to collect at least 12 victories prior to the All-Star break in consecutive seasons, and Sabathia should have a shot at 13 before getting his well-deserved three days in paradise.
"We've been winning games, and we're playing pretty well right now," Sabathia said. "Hopefully, I can just keep it up."