The New York Yankees faced the Boston Red Sox for the first time in the 2014 MLB season Thursday night at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York — and it was the Yankees who emerged victorious by a 4-1 score, behind six sharp innings from 25-year-old pitcher Michael Pineda who was making only his second start after missing two full seasons with a shoulder injury.
But Dominican-born Yankees hurler may have had some artificial assistance as he held the Red Sox to one run on four hits while striking out seven and throwing 94 pitches. Television broadcast cameras repeatedly zoomed in on Pineda’s pitching hand, which clearly showed a brownish, foreign substance, believed to be pine tar, on his palm.
But the umpires never checked Pineda’s hand, because the Red Sox never asked them to.
“I became aware of it in the fourth inning, through the video that some had seen,” said Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell. “And then when he came back out for the fifth inning, it looked based on where it was told to me it was located, it looked like the palm of his right hand was clean so that’s the extent of it.”
Because the substance appeared to have been wiped off by the time Farrell knew it was there, he felt he had no case to bring to the umpires, he said.
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi declined to comment about the foreign substance.
“There’s not much for me to speak on concerning that,” Girardi said after the game.
Pine tar would be used to help a pitcher get a better grip on the baseball, allowing for a tighter rotation and sharper movement on breaking balls such as the slider. But applying any foreign substance to the baseball is illegal under MLB rules.
Whether he had help or not, Pineda’s only lapse came on a deep blast into the right field seats by Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava.
Clay Buchholz, after an ineffective first outing of 2014 against the Milwaukee Brewers five days earlier, pitched a much more solid game this time around. But an error by Red Sox third baseman Jonathan Herrera — filling in for the injured Will Middlebrooks — led to two Yankee runs in the fifth,
In the sixth inning, longtime minor leaguer Dean Anna, playing in just his fourth Major League game at age 27, took Buchholz deep for the Yankees third run.
New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, playing his final season, hit a ground rule double later in that inning, and former Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who signed a free agent contract with the Yankees after last season, drove him in with a single.