Yanks top Astros 5-1 in 14, enter uncertain future
HOUSTON (AP) - Derek Jeter isn't sure who will be around him when the New York Yankees start 2014.
The Houston Astros will be trying to snap a 15-game losing streak when they open the season.
New York went into an offseason of uncertainty Sunday with a 5-1 victory over the Astros, whose skid was the longest at the end of the season in more than a century. Mark Reynolds, one of the many players signed this year to fill holes created by injuries, hit a tiebreaking homer in a four-run 14th inning.
"There a lot of ifs and questions and who's coming back and who's not coming back," Jeter said. "I have no idea. It would be unfair for me to even speculate."
Mariano Rivera didn't pitch in the final game of a career that started in 1995, and Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson were among the players unsure whether they had played their final games for the Yankees, who finished tied for third in the AL East at 85-77, 12 games behind division-winning Boston.
Bothered by sore legs, Alex Rodriguez didn't get into the finale. The appeal of his 211-game drug suspension starts Monday.
New York finished with its fewest wins in a non-strike season since 1992 and failed to make the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years. Manager Joe Girardi's contract is expiring, and he hasn't said whether he wants to come back for a seventh season.
"I see it as a year where there are probably more areas to address than there have been in a long time," Girardi said. "So there's a lot to be done in the offseason."
Same for the Astros.
Houston (51-111) set a team record for defeats and had the most in the majors since Arizona lost the same amount in 2004. The Astros finished with the lengthiest season-ending losing streak since the 1899 Cleveland Spiders dropped their last 16, according to STATS.
The Astros' 324 losses over three years matched the 1917 Philadelphia Athletics for third most in major league history behind the 1962-64 New York Mets (340) and the 1963-65 Mets (332), according to STATS.
Houston had two hits after the first inning and struck out 19 times. The Astros' season total of 1,535 set a major league record, six more than the previous mark by Arizona in 2010, and Chris Carter finished with 212 after whiffing three times; only Reynolds (223 in 2009) and Adam Dunn (222 last year) have struck out more.
"It's just a big learning experience for everybody," Carter said. "It's tough and tough for everybody around and it's frustrating, but whatever it takes for us to get better and be competitive in the future, whatever it takes."
Crippled by injuries to Jeter, their captain, along with Rodriguez, Granderson and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees never once put their envisioned starting lineup on the field in the same game. Teixeira was limited to 15 games, Jeter to 17 games, A-Rod to 44 and Granderson to 61.
New York used a team-record 56 players. The Yankees put 21 players on the disabled list for a total of 28 stints, causing 1,493 missed days, STATS said.
After the Yankees were eliminated from postseason on Wednesday, their final games turned into a tribute for Rivera, the 43-year-old career saves leader, and Andy Pettitte, the 41-year-old left-hander from suburban Deer Park.
Rivera decided he wanted Thursday night's emotional Yankee Stadium finale to be his final game. He finished with 652 regular-season saves and apologized for not pitching in Houston this weekend.
"I've been ready for this moment," Rivera said. "I've been happy with it, and move on."
Pettitte went out with a five-hitter on Saturday, his first complete game in seven years,
Granderson, who missed much of the season with a broken forearm and then a broken pinkie, hit a tying single in the eighth inning. Like Cano, he is eligible for free agency after the World Series.
Cano didn't play Sunday, and the All-Star second baseman finished with a .314 average, 27 homers and 107 RBIs. With reports he is seeking a 10-year deal worth $305 million or more, the Yankees may not re-sign their most productive hitter- especially if they want to get under next year's luxury tax threshold of $189 million.
As for the final game, Matt Daley (1-0) got the win. David Robertson, one of the possible replacements at closer for Rivera, pitched a perfect 14th.
Reynolds led off the 14th with a homer off Lucas Harrell (6-17), Eduardo Nunez added a two-run double and J.R. Murphy a run-scoring single, giving New York a final three-game sweep in a season notable for failure and farewells.
"There were memorable festivities, you know what I'm saying?" Jeter said. "Andy and Mo, goes without saying how special that was. But on the field, it wasn't memorable."
NOTES: Rivera's final game drew a crowd of 40,542 at Minute Maid Park, putting the Astros' final attendance at 1,656,443. That's up slightly from last year's total of 1,607,773, the lowest since Houston moved downtown in 2000. It was the second-biggest crowd of the season for Houston after opening day. ... Erik Bedard allowed three hits in seven shutout innings for Houston and struck out nine. Matt Dominguez had an RBI single in the first.
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