NEW YORK -- We can say with utmost confidence that if the Red Sox have not figured out Andy Pettitte by now, they never will.
The flip side of that is this: We can’t be so sure that Ryan Dempster will ever figure out the Yankees, although he should get a lot more chances to do so, now that he is with the Red Sox.
Since 1961, when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris roamed the earth, only Mel Stottlemyre has made more starts (46) against the Sox than the 40-year-old Pettitte, whose 38th career start against Boston was a beauty: eight innings in which he allowed just seven singles and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s RBI double. Familiarity has not translated into success for Boston: Pettitte has 19 wins against the Sox, more than any other active pitcher.
The Yankees had Pettitte in a jam in the first, but Shane Victorino was out at the plate trying to score from second on a wild pitch.
Mariano Rivera, whose every appearance in what he has announced will be his final season will be a rock concert, finished off the Sox, the Bombers averting a sweep by beating the Red Sox, 4-2, before a crowd of 40,611 in Yankee Stadium.
The Sox did not make it easy on the 43-year-old Rivera, Dustin Pedroia working a walk after falling behind 0-and-2 and Jonny Gomes doubling over the third-base bag one out later. But Rivera broke Will Middlebrooks’s bat on a tapper to first for the second out as a run scored, then caught Bradley looking at a called third strike. The save was the 609th of Rivera’s career, extending his all-time record.
Rivera signed with the Yankees in 1990, the year Bradley was born.
Dempster, meanwhile, has spent nearly all of his 16 seasons in the National League, so this was just his sixth career start against the Bombers. The record is now 0-5 with one no-decision, as Lyle Overbay, who spent the spring with the Sox before being released, hit a two-run single in the second and Brett Gardner homered into the front row of the right-field seats in the third.
* The last time the Sox visited Yankee Stadium for at least three games and left without a home run was Sept. 7-9, 2001, when Joe Kerrigan’s Fellowship of the Miserable lost three straight by the combined score of 19-6. Where have you gone, Izzy Alcantara?
* The Sox also began last season with a power outage, hitting just two home runs in their first seven games. They broke out of it with five home runs against Tampa Bay on April 14.
* Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. came closest to leaving the premises, hitting the wall in front of the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center in the seventh inning. He wound up at second with a double, his first extra-base hit, and scored Middlebrooks, who singled.
* Fred Lynn, the 1975 Rookie of the Year and MVP who had advocated Bradley’s promotion to the big leagues, saw parts of the first two games on TV from his home outside of San Diego.
“Saw him vs. [CC] Sabathia and liked the way he hung in there,’’ Lynn wrote in an e-mail. “Saw him get his first knock, 2-0. Too early for playoff tickets but nice to see.’’
* Catcher David Ross made his Sox debut and lived up to advance notices, throwing out both Yankees attempting to steal.