NEW YORK — Michael Pineda won while pitching with some noticeable substance on his hand, and Jacoby Ellsbury hit an RBI single off old roommate Clay Buchholz in his first game against the Red Sox as the New York Yankees beat Boston 4-1 Thursday night.
Ellsbury drew all the pregame attention after switching sides in the offseason. But it was the dark brown, seemingly tacky substance on the lower palm of Pineda’s pitching hand that quickly became the focus.
Close-up camera shots clearly showed Pineda (1-1) pitching for the first four innings with something on his hand, and there was speculation it was pine tar to help him get a better grip on a chilly night. The game was never stopped for an umpire to examine him, and it was gone by the fifth.
Pineda said it was merely dirt, rubbed on his sweaty right hand in-between innings.
“No, I don’t use pine tar. It was dirt,” he said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t see anything on Pineda’s hand.
“I really don’t have anything to say on the subject,” he said.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that he found out about the substance only after Pineda’s hand was cleaned up.
“It was not there by the time I was aware of it,” he said.
Pineda (1-1), making his first Yankee Stadium start 27 months after he was acquired from Seattle, took a two-hit shutout into the seventh and appeared completely recovered from the shoulder surgery that sidelined him for two years. Throwing at up to 95 mph, he allowed four hits in his first Yankees’ win, struck out seven and walked two.
Brian McCann ended an 0-for-14 slide with a run-scoring single that put the Yankees ahead during a two-run fourth in the first of 19 games between the rivals this season.
Making just his third big league start, Dean Anna homered as New York made it 4-0 in the fifth.
After spending nine years in the Red Sox organization and winning World Series titles in 2007 and last year, Ellsbury left for a $153 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees. And his first game put him at the plate against Buchholz (0-1), his roommate at Lowell of the New York-Penn League in their first summer of professional ball.
Ellsbury grounded out in the first inning, reached on an error and scored the game’s first run in the fourth, singled sharply to left to drive in a run in the fifth, and grounded out in the eighth.
Daniel Nava led off the seventh with a home run into the second deck in right, and Xander Bogaerts’ single chased Pineda.
With David Robertson on the disabled list and Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren unavailable after pitching Wednesday, the Yankees scrambled their bullpen. Cesar Cabral and David Phelps retired Boston’s last nine batters — striking out five — and Phelps got seven outs for his first career save.
Buchholz was sharper than in his opening start against Milwaukee, giving up four runs — two earned — and seven hits in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks.
Boston went 13-6 against New York last year, its most wins against the Yankees since 1973. While the Red Sox won their third title in 10 years, New York failed to make the playoffs for just the second time in 19 seasons.
Ellsbury reached leading off the fifth when Jonathan Herrera appeared to look up while fielding his grounder to third and allowed the ball to pop out of his glove for an error. With Herrera moved between second and first on a shift, Carlos Beltran singled between the third baseman and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, into right field.
McCann lined a single past Mike Napoli about 2 feet fair down the first-base line, driving in Ellsbury, and Alfonso Soriano hit a double-play grounder to shortstop that brought in a second run.
Anna opened spring training wearing No. 93 after six minor league seasons with San Diego, which traded him to New York in November, started at second base as Brian Roberts got his first day off. Now wearing a more respectable No. 45, Anna homered to right on an 87 mph splitter, his first in the big leagues after hitting 40 in the minors.