The Houston Astros lost their final game on Sunday to the New York Yankees, capping what has been an interesting season, to say the least. The loss was their 15th in a row, which, not surprisingly, is a franchise record. It is most likely the only record the Astros set this season.
The three-game series sweep at the hands of the Yankees on the final weekend of the season was illustrative of the entire year’s campaign. On Friday night, they lost 3-2. On Saturday, 2-1, and on Sunday they succumbed in extra innings. The Astros’ systematic ability to not win close games haunted them all season long. This is indicative of an inexperienced team, and as Houston had the youngest team in the majors, frequently promoting and demoting players up and down from the minors, this is expected.
Winning close games has so much to do with reliance on the closing pitching staff. Houston was the final stop of legendary Mariano Rivera’s goodbye tour. The Cooperstown-bound veteran is the definition of reliability, having successfully saved more games than anyone in history by quite a large margin.
Houston’s lack of a solid closer was a thorn all year long, and if at any time the bats could give the Astros a slight edge going into the end of a game, it was assumed that the relievers would probably blow the lead. It’s a sad state of affairs when one predicts the worst about their team, but the athletes failed to prove the doubters wrong.
If the Astros are optimistic about the 2014 season, they have a lot of growing up to do this winter.
Daniel Jamieson is an MLB writer for Rant Sports. Follow him @JamiesonDaniel