Pineda on point: Yanks win opener vs. Sox

Pineda on point: Yanks win opener vs. Sox

BOSTON -- The Yankees rode pinpoint control from righty starter Michael Pineda en route to a 5-1 victory in Friday night's opener of a three-game rivalry showdown against the Red Sox.

Pineda (9-5, 3.64 ERA) held the Red Sox to seven hits and a run while walking none and striking out six. Over 6 2/3 innings, Pineda threw 89 pitches, 68 of them for strikes.

"I threw a couple good changeups and my slider was good tonight," Pineda said. "I'm feeling very strong tonight. I had really good energy tonight. I'm feeling great."

The Yankees, assured of walking into the All-Star break clutching first place in the American League East, got a quick run in the first, when Alex Rodriguez belted a solo shot over the Monster against Clay Buchholz, who would later leave the game with an elbow injury.

Statcast: A-Rod's solo home run

In the fourth, the Yankees scored three to take a 4-0 lead, as the Red Sox made two errors and lost Buchholz in the middle of the inning. Mookie Betts, who made a diving catch in the first, homered in the fifth on an otherwise quiet night for the Boston bats.

Buchholz leaves with an injury

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Buchholz leaves with injury: It was a bad development for the Red Sox when Buchholz walked off the mound with right elbow tightness in the top of the fourth. Over the last few weeks, Buchholz was one of the best pitchers in the American League.

"No, nothing definitive or anything more than what has been announced," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "There's some tightness, some stiffness, in the elbow area. He's undergoing a full workup with imaging so until we get any further information, that's all we have right now." More >

McCann scores on an error

Yanks take advantage: New York sent nine batters to the plate in the fourth inning, scoring three runs with some help from Boston's defense and Buchholz's early exit. Second baseman Brock Holt booted Jacoby Ellsbury's two-out grounder to extend the frame and allowed the first run to score, and Brett Gardner legged out an infield single with a headfirst slide to get the second run home. A-Rod worked an RBI walk before Robbie Ross Jr. finally escaped.

Statcast: Yanks show off wheels

"You worry when [Gardner slides headfirst], but it's a big run," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We capitalized on an error and a walk and took advantage of it and gave us a 4-0 lead."

Electric slide: Pineda's recent success can be attributed to the return of his swing-and-miss slider, which helped him ring up 18 strikeouts over his last two outings. Pineda held Boston to one run --- Betts' fifth-inning homer, off one of his few hanging pitches -- as he scattered seven hits and picked up his first victory since June 17.

"Michael was huge," Rodriguez said. "I thought he may have had his best stuff of the year tonight from my vantage point, from my lens. And, of course, it's just so nice to have Ellsbury and Andrew [Miller] back. It just completes our roster."

Napoli's single to left

Napoli's return a mixed bag: Making his first start in six days, the slumping Mike Napoli went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. He also made a throwing error.

"Gets a basehit in the second at-bat after getting hit by a pitch. He's going to have good plate coverage, as we've seen," said Farrell. "I think tonight he swung the bat as consistent as we've seen. Gets a basehit, but we're not going to make too much out of it. I thought he was in a pretty good place tonight."

QUOTABLE
"I think it's big. You come in here and win the first game, and you try to win the series." -- Girardi, on facing the Red Sox

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Red Sox have lost five in a row to the Yankees, their longest losing streak against their rivals since 2012.

WHAT'S NEXT
Yankees: Ivan Nova will make his fourth start of the season on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET, returning to the rivalry against the Red Sox for the first time since his Tommy John procedure. Nova began his season with 11 2/3 scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the sixth inning of his last start on June 30 against the Angels in Anaheim.

Red Sox: Rookie lefty Eduardo Rodriguez gets his first taste of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry when he takes the mound. Rodriguez gave up six hits and a run while striking out eight in a no-decision in his last start.

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.