The still photos from the television broadcasts appeared conclusive and damning.
Michael Pineda had a substance of some kind on his pitching hand during Thursday night's game against Boston.
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But the Red Sox -- who faced accusations last season that Thursday night's starter, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester put something on the baseball -- never uttered a word of protest to plate umpire Bob Davidson or Brian O'Nora, the crew chief.
So while controversy swirled outside the ballpark regarding the goo-like substance, the only story for the 42,821 fans and the two teams at the Stadium was Pineda's performance. And without question, it was terrific.
Pineda allowed one run and four hits in six innings-plus in a 4-1 victory, the first win of his Yankees career. There still was that controversy, though. "It was dirt," he said. "Between the innings, I'm sweating too much, and I grabbed the dirt."
The Red Sox made no postgame accusations -- Dustin Pedroia called it a "non-issue" and David Ross said "I don't think he was cheating" -- and Joe Girardi, though cryptic in his responses, didn't see an issue.
"I didn't see it on his hand," Girardi said. "No. 2, I don't really have anything to say about it. He pitched great tonight and we're glad to have him."
The Yankees were certainly glad that Pineda gave them six innings on a night in which Girardi said he was without Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley, the fill-in closer with David Robertson on the disabled list.
After Daniel Nava's leadoff homer off Pineda in the seventh, Cesar Cabral took over with none out and one on and struck out A.J. Pierzynski and Jackie Bradley Jr. before giving way to David Phelps. He retired all seven batters he faced for his first career save.
"I wanted to finish it," Phelps said. "I knew our pen was thin so I wanted to go out and eat up as much as I could, and thankfully it was the rest of the game."
Girardi had called the game a "pretty good test" for Pineda but added: "I don't necessarily think you can get too excited about one start either way."
But there's no doubt which way Yankees fans are leaning after watching Pineda (1-1, 1.50 ERA) turn in a second standout outing. With a devastating slider and a fastball that reached 96 mph, he gave up four hits, walked two and struck out seven.
"Huge," Derek Jeter said of Pineda's potential impact for the Yankees. "He's a legitimate power pitcher and strikeout pitcher. He throws like this, he's going to be tough to beat."
Said catcher Brian McCann: "His stuff tonight was electric."
The Yankees grinded out four runs and seven hits in six innings. They scored two unearned runs in the fourth -- McCann snapped an 0-for-14 slide with an RBI single -- and made it 4-0 in the fifth on Dean Anna's first career homer, Jeter's double and Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI single.
But the topic of the night was Pineda and what might have been on his hand. Alfonso Soriano had a take on that.
"As a veteran in the majors, I can tell you most pitchers use something to feel the ball in their hand, and I actually think that it is better for hitters," Soriano told ESPN Deportes. "When a pitcher uses something to grip the ball, it is to make sure that it's not going to come loose. I'm not saying Pineda was using something, but I've been on other teams and I have always seen pitchers who use substances that perhaps are banned, but I think it's good for the safety of the batter. It ensures pitchers have a better grip and don't hit you."
With John Jeansonne