NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia has established a solid track record as a durable ace and a proven winner at the front of the Yankees' rotation over his four-plus seasons in pinstripes.
What the left-hander has not proven, however, is to be a great bet on Opening Day. Sabathia struggled with his command and completed just five innings as the Yankees opened the new campaign on Monday with an 8-2 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
"It's always disappointing, not pitching well," Sabathia said. "This is no different. Opening Day, Game 1 of the playoffs, July 1st -- it doesn't matter. You always want to pitch well and try to give your team a chance to win, and I didn't do that today."
The Red Sox scored four runs off Sabathia, who now owns an 0-2 record and a 7.42 ERA over his five Opening Day starts for New York, allowing 22 earned runs in 26 2/3 innings.
That was too large of a deficit to be erased by a depleted Yankees lineup decidedly lacking in star power, with players like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson all on the disabled list.
During Boston left-hander Jon Lester's five innings, New York managed two runs on Francisco Cervelli's single in the fourth inning before being silenced by a succession of five relievers.
"We didn't capitalize when we needed to," Kevin Youkilis said. "They got timely hitting. Some of the balls weren't hit that hard and some were, but timely hitting is the key. We just didn't have that today."
The Yankees struck out 10 times in the loss, including three times to kill a key seventh-inning rally, and they finished 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"We had an opportunity to possibly tie the game up," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I'm sure I'm going to be asked that question a lot without some of the firepower that we've had in the past, but I feel these guys are more than capable of coming back."
There were other concerns for the Yankees. Sabathia sat mostly around 89 mph, topping out at 91 mph, in his first start since having left elbow surgery to remove bone chips following the 2012 postseason.
Girardi said that Sabathia hit 93 mph in Spring Training and that warmer weather could help his strength. Sabathia said that the reduced velocity should not be a problem for him, as he has often been a slow starter during his big league career.
"It's always what it is at the beginning of the year, 88-92 [mph]," Sabathia said. "That's what I'll work with right now, and hopefully, it gets a little better."
All of Boston's damage against Sabathia came in the second inning. In that frame, Boston loaded the bases with one out, as Sabathia issued walks to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. around a Jonny Gomes single.
Jose Iglesias knocked in the first run with an infield single, and one out later, Shane Victorino ripped a two-run single to left field and Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI single to right.
Sabathia had the bases loaded in the fifth as well but got Iglesias to pop out to first base to escape that threat. Sabathia scattered eight hits, walking four (one intentionally) and striking out five.
"I need to do a better job of finishing innings and maybe pitch deeper into the game," Sabathia said.
The Yankees threatened with two men aboard in the seventh, but Andrew Miller struck out both Eduardo Nunez and Robinson Cano before Andrew Bailey came on to whiff Youkilis to escape any damage.
"Bailey comes in, probably the key at-bat in the game with Youkilis, and gets a key strikeout," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It was good to get a number of guys to the mound today on Day 1."
Joba Chamberlain allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in the top of the ninth to put the game out of reach.
With wind and rain suddenly filling the ballpark, what had once been a boisterous Opening Day crowd started a slow retreat to the streets.
"We have 161 more to go," Youkilis said. "As a Major League Baseball player, there are a lot of games you just throw out the window. You just have to keep working hard, try to get better every day. That's what we're going to do."
The Yankees had won their last 11 home openers -- in which the first home game was also the first game of the season -- dating to 1986, which tied an all-time Major League record.
New York's last loss when playing the first game of a season in the Bronx came in 1982, when the White Sox won, 7-6, in 12 innings at the original Yankee Stadium.
"It's one game; that's the conclusion I draw," Girardi said. "You don't make too much of it. Everyone wants to get off to a great start. Everyone wants to go 3-for-4 and drive in a couple of runs, but it just doesn't happen that way."