"When I see the outfielder go to get the ball, I see that's a hit," Pirela said. "I say, 'I want to hit a homer.' I thought the ball is gone, but I hit a triple and I enjoy that."
Pirela is the 57th different player to appear in a game for the Yankees this season, breaking the franchise record of 56 that was set last year.
The Yankees secured the milestone ball for Pirela, who said that he would bring it home after the season. Manager Joe Girardi also delivered the lineup card to Pirela's clubhouse locker.
"When I see the ball go on the ground and see that I get my first big league hit, I feel so excited," Pirela said. "That's the way I play. I enjoy the moment."
Pirela lashed a single to right field off Chen in the fifth inning, scoring on Derek Jeter's two-run double, then flied out in the seventh inning to finish 2-for-3. Jeter, in the final days of his big league career, said he could appreciate watching Pirela get his feet wet.
"That was fun. It's exciting to watch," Jeter said. "You see how excited he was to get his first hit, then his second hit. It never gets old. We're all happy for him. He got an opportunity to play and I'm pretty sure he didn't think he was going to get called up this year. For him to come up and get his first hit, that's a fun thing to watch."
The last Yankee with a triple in his first Major League at-bat was Steve Balboni on April 22, 1981, according to the YES Network.
The product of Venezuela was an International League All-Star this year for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he batted .305 with 10 home runs and 60 RBIs in 130 games. He was selected to the Yankees' active roster last week when Martin Prado had a season-ending appendectomy.
"He's an exciting player," Girardi said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.