Jacoby Ellsbury Overcomes Awkwardness; Other Notes From Red Sox’s Loss

Jacoby EllsburyNEW YORK — The Yankees took Round 1.

The Red Sox and Yankees played their first of 19 regular-season matchups Thursday, and New York cruised to a 4-1 victory behind a strong — albeit controversial — pitching performance from Michael Pineda.

Jon Lester and CC Sabathia will square off Friday in the second game of the teams’ four-game set. Let’s unload Thursday’s notebook before getting too caught up in that contest.

- Pineda is to the Yankees what Grady Sizemore is to the Red Sox.

Pineda once was one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball until injuries took their toll. Pineda missed all of 2012 and didn’t make a single major league start in 2013. Thursday’s victory marked the 25-year-old’s first big league win since July 30, 2011.

Pineda gave up just one run on four hits while striking out seven over six innings.

- Pineda’s start was filled with controversy, though. It looked like the right-hander had a pine tar-like substance on his throwing hand, which obviously is a big no-no.

“It’s dirt,” Pineda told reporters after the game. “Between the innings, I’m sweating too much (on) my hand, I’m putting dirt, I’m grasping the dirt. … I’m not using pine tar.”

The Red Sox downplayed the mysterious goop’s significance, even though social media was abuzz.

- Clay Buchholz, who surrendered a career-high 13 hits in his first start of the season, was much better Thursday. He gave up four runs (two earned) on seven hits while striking out six over six innings.

“I felt a lot better,” Buchholz. “I felt just in the last five days, the arm strength and everything got a lot better in a five-day span, which usually doesn’t happen that quick. I felt a lot more comfortable with each pitch out there tonight.”

- Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in his first game against his former club. It certainly was awkward seeing Ellsbury in pinstripes, but the speedy outfielder made an impact.

- Ellsbury joked with several former teammates during batting practice.

“Playing with him so long and then you see him playing against us, it’s definitely kind of weird,” Dustin Pedroia said after the game.

- Ellsbury, who once roomed with Buchholz at Single-A Lowell, called the pitcher a “friend of mine for life.” Buchholz added to the lovefest.

“He did what’s best for his family and, obviously, no hard feeling in the clubhouse about it,” Buchholz said. “I really wish him the best of luck because he’s one of the best. Different seeing him in another uniform, but at the same time you know that’s the business side of the game.”

- Brian McCann had his first Red Sox-Yankees moment. McCann plated New York’s first two runs in the fourth inning with a line drive down the right field line.

- Dean Anna hit his first major league home run off Buchholz in the fifth inning.

- The Red Sox’s only run came on Daniel Nava’s seventh-inning homer. Nava also made a tremendous diving play.

- David Ortiz, who went 1-for-4, now has reached safely in all 23 games he’s played against the Yankees since the start of the 2012 season. He’s hitting .425 (37-for-87) with three homers and 12 RBIs against New York in that span.

- Craig Breslow worked a perfect seventh inning in his first appearance since coming off the disabled list.

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