NEW YORK — The rivalry resumed, with many of the familiar faces missing, and expectations down this season for both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
But the Red Sox were able to savor the rejuvenating spirit of opening day at Yankee Stadium on Monday, beginning the John Farrell era with an 8-2 victory of the Yankees.
“I think some of the things we established in camp we were able to play out today,” Farrell, who took over for fired manager Bobby Valentine after last season, said of the Red Sox, who got three hits and three RBI from Jose Iglesias and a win out of the gate for starter Jon Lester.
“Everyone was looking forward to today, getting the season started. There’s a tremendous amount of energy with this group. The way we ran the bases with intensity, the one word that we continually talk about here is to be relentless, and I thought we demonstrated that up and down the lineup.”
The Sox did, with Shane Victorino getting a big two-run hit from the top of the order and Iglesias and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. — who walked three times, drove in a run and used his speed to help extend an inning and make a nice defensive play — contributing from the bottom.
CC Sabathia gave up four runs in five innings to take the loss for the Yankees, who got a two-run single from catcher Francisco Cervelli as they opened the season at home at the same time as the crosstown Mets for the first time in the franchises’ history.
“It’s always disappointing not pitching well,” said Sabathia, who allowed eight hits while striking out five and walking four. “This is no different. Opening day, game 1 of the playoffs, July 1, it doesn’t matter. You always want to pitch well and give your team a chance to win and I didn’t do that today.”
The Yankees featured an extremely revamped lineup as they were without plenty of their injured stars, including the odd sight of former beloved Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes. Most notably, the Yankees missed captain Derek Jeter at shortstop on opening day for the first time since 2001 and the second time since he started in 1996.
The Red Sox, missing injured designated hitter David Ortiz, touched up Sabathia for four runs in the second inning.
After Boston loaded the bases on two walks and a single, Iglesias smacked an RBI single snared off the ground by shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who fired to second to try for a force. But Bradley’s speed allowed him to beat the throw. Two batters later, Victorino knocked in two more runs with a single to left, and Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI single to right for the 4-0 lead.
The Yankees responded with a pair of runs off Lester (1-0) in the fourth. Youkilis smacked a leadoff double to prompt the familiar “Youk” call in the Bronx that he used to hear in Boston.
“It was cool, it was great. Yankee Stadium is a place where people dream to come play at,” Youkilis said of making his Yankees debut. “It was very enjoyable to go out there, and it stunk in the end to come up short, but this is a great place to play.
“I’ve been playing Yankee baseball for over a month now so I think we need to move on past that,” he said of playing the Red Sox. “I play for the Yankees now.”
Cervelli came through with two outs by drilling a two-run single down the left-field line to cut the deficit in half. But Lester got Brett Gardner on a liner to end the inning and give himself a chance to have a positive start after a disappointing season last year.
“I thought Jon did bend, but he didn’t break in that two-run inning,” Farrell said of Lester, who allowed the two runs on five hits in five innings, while striking out seven and walking two. “I thought, more than anything, it was a good starting point for him.”
Five Sox relievers shut out the Yankees the rest of the way, and Boston added an insurance run in the seventh and put the game away for good with three runs in the ninth, including a two-run single by Iglesias.
Then, as the weather turned cold and the new-look Yankees were on their way to an obvious loss, nearly all of the fans left the ballpark.
“At the end it was ugly out on the field and off it,” said left fielder Vernon Wells, who went 0-for-3 in his Yankees debut. “I don’t blame them for heading home early.”
Notes: Mariano Rivera, who will retire after the season, said he wasn’t focused on this being his final opening day but acknowledged, “I’m gonna enjoy, I’m gonna enjoy.” Asked if he shagged fly balls in the outfield during batting practice — an activity that led to a season-ending injury last April — Rivera smiled. “I was waiting for that one,” he said. “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. It felt good. I wouldn’t change anything. (The injury) happened and I have to move on.” … Ortiz, out with a right Achilles injury, admitted it was “a little weird, but it is what it is,” when asked about missing the season-opener. Ortiz said he expected to go on an extended spring training assignment next week. … Bradley Jr. became the first Boston player to reach base in his first major-league plate appearance on opening day since 1968 and Farrell credited his baserunning when he beat Nunez’s throw as one of the plays of the game. “I wasn’t nervous. I’m a pretty relaxed guy,” said Bradley, who also made an impressive catch to rob Robinson Cano of a hit. “It’s exciting, it’s very memorable. I know I’ll never forget it.” … Alex Rodriguez joined the Yankees for Opening Day and addressed reporters before the game, saying he was eager to come back from his second hip surgery and expected to play this season. He declined comment on reports of his alleged ties to a Miami clinic accused of supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs, saying he stood by an earlier statement denying any wrongdoing. … The Yankees hosted first responders to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., and both teams wore ribbons honoring the victims of the shooting, which included 20 children who were shot to death in December. Major League Baseball also asked all teams to wear ribbons on opening day and the Yankees are planning a day for children of the school and their families on July 7, when school is out.