Yankees captain Derek Jeter recorded a perfect batting average with five hits from five at-bats, including a solo home run in the eighth, to lead the team from the Bronx to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
"It was just one of those days, they don't happen very often in the regular season or post-season," said Jeter.
"In a short series you can't relax, you want to win the first game at home.
"It was a big win but it means absolutely nothing unless we win tomorrow."
Taiwanese pitcher Chien-Ming Wang pitched 6 2/3 innings for the Yankees allowing three runs in the fifth, before Mariano Rivera finished off the Tigers in a scoreless ninth.
"I was very proud of him after he gave up the three runs to be able to pitch the way he did the rest of that inning and the following inning," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Wang.
While the Yankees will be looking to go 2-0 in their series on Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins will be hoping for a 1-1 split after going down 3-2 to the Oakland Athletics in an opening match thriller in Minnesota.
A's designated hitter Frank Thomas blasted two solo home runs to spark Oakland, as Twins starting pitcher Johan Santana, who won 19 games for Minnesota in the regular-season, suffered his first loss at home for the year.
"Big-timers show up this time of year," said Oakland first baseman Nick Swisher.
Oakland's Frank Thomas rounds
the bases after his first home run
"And it doesn't really get any more big-time than Frank Thomas."
With Oakland leading 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Twins pulled one run back through a lead-off triple by right-fielder Michael Cuddyer, but it was not enough as Minnesota eventually ended up one run short of tying the game.
Oakland's Barry Zito pitched eight innings, allowing just four hits and one run, with Santana also pitching eight for two runs.
"First game won is pretty big, especially against Johan," Zito said.
"We all know how great he is. We got the hits, played great 'D' and we got the victory."
Cards beat Padres
Finally, in San Diego the visiting team also took an early lead in the series when the St Louis Cardinals beat the Padres 5-1.
Cardinals first-baseman Albert Pujols smashed a two-run homer off Padres starter Jake Peavy in the fourth innings.
"It was game changing," said Peavy.
"You can't give Albert second chances because he's going to hurt you."
The Cardinals added a further run in the fourth and scored runs in fifth and sixth to give their starting pitcher Chris Carpenter a 5-0 cushion.
Carpenter pitched into the seventh innings, with Tyler Johnson and Adam Wainwright closing out for the visitors.
In the other division series, the Los Angeles Dodgers travel to New York to take on the Mets in their opener on Wednesday.