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Op-Ed: Astros exploit Yankees’ weaknesses in wild-card game win

But after hearing Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, trying to explain their 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros in a one-game playoff for the final tournament slot, it could be years before the Bronx Bombers again live up to their name and reputation.

Some of what befell the Yankees over the course of their late-season swoon that took them from a commanding lead in the American League’s eastern division to mere wild-card hopeful was probably not their fault — the team can’t really be blamed for doctors’ misdiagnosing Mark Texeira’s broken leg or for Masahiro Tanaka’s partially torn UCL.

“Obviously we’re not good enough right now, because we’re not playing,” Cashman told reporters outside the Yankees dugout after the game, according to ESPN.com.

“It’s all that matters,” he said.

But other things that happened, or didn’t happen, were completely under the team’s — and Cashman’s — control.

When the Yankees‘ offense came down to 35-year-old Texeira and 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez near the end of the season, Cashman elected to stand pat instead of getting another bat or arm at the trade deadline.

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Other teams — the rival Blue Jays, for example, who acquired David Price and overtook the Yankees to cruise to the division crown, and, obviously, the crosstown Mets, who picked up Yoenis Cespedes and won the National League East — were able to improve immeasurably with deadline deals in the second half of the season

But not the Yankees, despite the team’s obvious weak spots.

“The wheels were flying off as the season went on,” was how Cashman summed it up outside the locker room.

“The longer it went, for some reason, the worse we started to get,” he said. “Obviously, we lost some key guys, but also some guys just did not play the way they are capable of playing.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi even had to start two rookies in the infield in the most important game of the year because of the thin roster.

“Maybe we were out of gas, maybe we were too banged up,” Teixeira said. “We just kind of hit a wall at the end of the year.”

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Yeah, maybe. But even if that was the case, it still was Cashman’s job to fix the problem before they took the mound Tuesday against Dallas Keuchel, one of Major League Baseball‘s best pitchers.

Keuchel pitched a great six innings, Houston’s bullpen kept the Yankees shut down in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, and the Astros — not the Yanks — are moving on to face Kansas City in the 2015 American League division series.

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