By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - It was one-and-done for the New York Yankees on Tuesday, as they were eliminated from Major League Baseball's postseason by a 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros in a do-or-die Wild Card playoff game.
"It stinks to lose," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "That's the bottom line and it leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
"But I'm extremely proud of the guys in that room."
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka paid for a pair of imprecise pitches that ended up as long home runs by Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez that put Houston ahead for good.
"He just made some mistakes," said Girardi. "He missed with his fastball (to Rasmus) and missed with the breaking ball up (to Gomez).
"A lot of nights you give up two runs, five innings you've got a pretty good chance to win. But we just haven't been able to solve (Astros pitcher Dallas) Keuchel this year."
Keuchel, 20-8 this campaign, extended his scoreless season record against the Yankees to 22 innings as he went six innings and combined with three relievers on a three-hit shutout.
Yankees reliever Dellin Betances yielded the third run.
"Being out there was a lot of fun. But it sucks being on the losing end," he said. "They pitched better than we did.
"Now you got to motivate yourself to work harder and hopefully help the team go further next year."
Alex Rodriguez, the 40-year-old slugger who came back after missing an entire season due to a doping suspension to belt a surprising 33 home runs, was philosophical about the loss.
"They played a better game than we did tonight," he said in a somber Yankees clubhouse.
"It's baseball. The team fought hard all year, until the 27th out all year. Sometimes it comes down to one game. Today wasn't our day."
The Yankees were written off before the season as an aging club that would not contend. Instead, some of the old war horses such as Rodriguez and the now-injured Mark Teixeira powered the team to success.
Late in the season, young players such as first baseman Greg Bird, second baseman Rob Refsnyder and pitcher Luis Severino made positive contributions.
"It's been an incredibly fun year. I had a lot of fun playing with the guys and feel great for having the opportunity to come back and reestablish myself as a Major League Baseball player," Rodriguez said.
Tuesday, however, was not much fun.
"Our goal is always to get to the championship and win it. We put ourselves in a position today to advance and just came up a little short," said A-Rod.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)