In the past week or so, there were moments that gave this Yankees season some sense of a happy ending. Mariano Rivera had his emotional farewell moment at Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte pitched a complete game in the final start of his career. Even today, the Yankees played what should have been an exciting game to finish off the season with an extra-inning win and a three-game sweep.
There were nice moments, happy memories, but still no sense of satisfaction.
“There were memorable festivities,” Derek Jeter said. “Andy and Mo, it goes without saying how special that was. But on the field wasn’t memorable.”
I doubt there was anything about the Yankees postgame clubhouse that would shock you. Just a lot of hugs and handshakes, long-time teammates saying goodbye for now, and relatively new guys showing some appreciation to the guys who have been around for a long time. This ending wasn’t abrupt. It wasn’t stunning. Some of the guys who live in Texas aren’t even going back to New York. They’re simply driving home, having already packed up their things for the offseason.
“No sadness at all,” Rivera said. “I think I did everything that I could, worked as hard as I had to. We fell short. You can’t do nothing against that.”
No, you can’t. Nothing about today was going to change the reality of what’s coming in the next month of postseason baseball, or the next four months of offseason maneuvering. The season was over before the Yankees came to Texas, and there was nothing that one more Rivera ceremony and one more win could do to change that.
“The baseball Gods didn’t want to let Mo and Andy go home,” Girardi said. “We thought we’d play as long as we could.”
That’s the nice way to think of it. And for the sake of one last happy memory, let’s leave it at that.
• As his final retirement gift, Rivera was given a legitimately cool painting by a Texas artist who apparently specializes in sports paintings. Roger Clemens and Joe Torre were both on hand and spoke about Rivera. “It was great,” Rivera said. “Every time that I have Mr. Torre around, it’s great for me. And seeing Clemens was outstanding, also.”
• Yes, Clemens and Pettitte saw one another and hugged on the field. Pettitte had said in the days leading up to this that even after all the recent drama of their relationship, he would be happy to see Clemens.
• Jeter said he’s made no decisions concerning his player option for next season. “Our season just ended right now, so I’ve given no thought to the offseason,” he said. Jeter does expect to have a normal offseason that will leave him 100 percent for spring training.
• Not that anyone was expecting breaking news from Robinson Cano, but he said basically nothing about his upcoming free agency, only that he’s looking forward to getting back to the Dominican Republic to spend some time with family before making a decision. And he’s in no rush, even if this takes several months. “What else are you going to do?” he said.
• Jayson Nix was actually the Yankees manager today, but he said the early pitching decisions were pretty much mapped out ahead of time, and really his only managerial moves were giving a few guys the green light or the red light on the bases. He wanted to try a hit and run at some point, but never really got the chance. “He quit after nine innings,” Girardi said. “So we’re going to send him to instructional ball so he can lengthen out his career.”
• Girardi said he offered the job to Rivera and Pettitte, but neither wanted to do it. He then went to Nix because it seems like Nix might be the kind of guy to think about managing some day, but Nix said postgame that — for right now — he doesn’t really think he’d ever want to get into managing. Obviously that’s a decision for some day in the distant future.
• Another pretty good outing by David Huff. This was his second start of the season — the first was a completely debacle — and he tied a career-high with seven strikeouts. He held the Astros to just one run on three hits and no walks through five innings.
• Eduardo Nunez had three hits including two doubles and got his season slash line up to .260/.307/.372 after particularly bad start to the season. Of Yankees who played in at least 25 games, Nunez’s batting average was the fourth highest behind Cano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki.
• David Adams had his first career triple, J.R. Murphy had his first career RBI, and Dellin Betances set career-highs in innings pitched (2.1) and strikeouts (4). He retired all seven batters he faced and struck out the side in the ninth.
• The Yankees pitching staff tied a franchise record with 19 strikeouts today. They struck out 14 through nine innings, which tied a season-high (also July 14 against the Twins). The last time the Yankees had 19 strikeouts in a game was April 19, 2001 in Toronto in 17 innings. They also reached that number in 15 innings against the White Sox in 1987.
• Last time the Yankees played extra innings in their season finale was that memorable final day of the 2011 season when the Rays walked off against the Yankees.
• The Yankees are now 6-0 all-time in Houston, having previously swept a three-game series here in 2008. They are 13-2 all-time against the Astros and have won 12 of their last 13 against them.
• Final word might as well go to Jeter: “We’ve had questions before. There’s been questions most offseasons. There might be a few more this year, but there’s been years when there’s been a lot of guys we weren’t sure were coming back. There’s been times when Mr. T was a free agent and we didn’t know if he was coming back, and he ended up not coming back. So you never know what’s going to happen. That’s why I don’t even try to speculate.”
Associated Press photos