HOUSTON -- As the Yankees fielded their final lineup of the 2013 season, they did so feeling fortunate to have watched terrific sendoffs for Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, but also with the lament of missing the postseason for just the second time in 19 years.
"There's a lot of emotions that go through a day like this," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The disappointment of not getting where we want. The sadness of seeing two Yankee greats leave and walk away. I'm extremely happy with the way they were able to go out. The only thing better would have been in the World Series.
"But there's a lot of work to be done, and a lot of things that we were able to do this year. We saw a lot of good things, we saw a lot of players step up. A number of times that people thought we were out of it, we seemed to find a way to come back. Unfortunately, we just weren't able to get into playing next week."
The 2013 campaign marked the Yankees' 21st straight winning season (1993-2013), which is the second-longest stretch in Major League history.
Girardi said that the pitch-perfect farewells for Rivera and Pettitte will be most memorable in his mind, as well as the willingness of the players on his roster -- a franchise-record 56 in all -- to do whatever the coaching staff asked of them.
Girardi joked about two more items: that outfielder Vernon Wells never would have anticipated being needed to play third base, second base and first base, and that infielder Luis Cruz was once blocked from entering the stadium by security guards who didn't believe he was actually on the team.
"Those are the two things that really stick out, which kind of tell me what kind of year it has been around here," Girardi said.