Yankees close season with three games at Houston

(Sports Network) - One night after Mariano Rivera said goodbye to the Bronx, the New York Yankees begin a season-ending three-game series with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

New York lost to the Tampa Bay Rays for the ninth time in 12 games on Thursday in Rivera's final appearance at Yankee Stadium.

"I've been with Mo since '96. Had a lot of great times. He made my job fun, he made my job easy," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But probably more important than that, he made all our lives better. And we'll miss him."

Rivera retired all four batters he faced after coming on with one out in the top of the eighth. He was removed with two outs in the ninth, with longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte coming to the mound to embrace baseball's all-time saves leader before he walked off to a standing ovation.

"I was bombarded with emotions and feelings," Rivera said. "Everything hit. I knew that's the last time. Period."

Baseball's all-time saves leader, who may play some center field this weekend, will also be honored by the Astros on Sunday in a ceremony that will include former teammate Roger Clemens as well as former manager Joe Torre.

"In my mind, thinking that he's going to want to pitch, it would be a situation that I might bring him in (in) the eighth to play the outfield and close him out in the ninth if we have that opportunity," Girardi said of having Rivera play the field.

As bad as the Yankees have been of late, Houston has been far worse and enters this series riding a 12-game losing streak. The Astros' loss to Texas on Thursday gave them a franchise-worst 108 losses and baseball's most since Arizona dropped 111 in 2004.

"It's not fun at all. We go out there and want to win, but it's not happening. We're going to have to fix things and come back stronger next year," center fielder Brandon Barnes said. "I believe in the guys in this clubhouse, and there are guys coming up who can do the job."

Rookie left-hander Brett Oberholtzer will get the call for the Astros and is 4-4 with a 2.71 ERA. He pitched well in a loss to Cleveland last Friday and his 2.14 ERA over his last nine starts is the best mark among left-handers in the American League.

New York, meanwhile, will counter with righty Brett Marshall, who has pitched to a 5.40 ERA without recording a decision in two appearances out of the bullpen. This will be his first big league start.

The Yankees are 10-2 all-time against Houston and took two of three in New York versus the Astros from April 29-May 1.


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