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Miller, Betances make spring debuts, Yankees lose to Astros

NEW YORK -- Yankees Joe Girardi walked into his office Monday and looked at his notes.

"There were still things on my board from last October when we faced them," he said.

New season but same opponent and same opposing pitcher as the Yankees' final game of 2015. Only New York and the Houston Astros will have to wait an extra day.

It was 40 degrees and drizzling when Monday's opener was called, 4 1/2 hours before the scheduled first pitch for the afternoon start. New York's first postponed opener since 2008 was rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon, when the forecast is for sunshine and 40-degree temperatures at game time.

AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel is to start for Houston against Masahiro Tanaka of New York in a rematch of last year's AL wild-card game, won by the Astros 3-0.

"It's something you dream of since you were a little kid," said Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who made his big league debut last June and went on to be voted AL Rookie of the Year.

Keuchel was 3-0 against the Yankees last year, including the playoff game, and the left-hander pitched 22 scoreless innings against New York.

Girardi planned to start newcomer Aaron Hicks, a right-handed batter, in left field instead of lefty swinging Brett Gardner. Last October, Girardi benched Jacoby Ellsbury in the playoff game and started Gardner, who went 0 for 4.

"If it's the second day of the season, it's not a big deal, but because it's opening day and what Gardy's meant to this organization, it is a big deal, and I feel for him," Girardi said. "But this is the reason that we traded for Hicks. On days we face lefties, Ells or Gardy, one of them will get a day off, and it keeps them fresh and strong."

Hicks hit .307 against lefties last season and is 2 for 5 in his career against Keuchel. Gardner did not seem to mind.

"It is what it is. It's all about the team," he said.

BATTING ORDERS

New York's batting order had Ellsbury leading off and playing center field, followed by Hicks, designated hitter Alex Rodriguez, first baseman Mark Teixeira, right fielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann, third baseman Chase Headley, new second baseman Starlin Castro and shortstop Didi Gregorius.

Girardi said the bottom of the batting order would stay the same for now when Gardner rejoins the lineup against right-handers, even though that means New York would have three left-handed hitters in a row in the nine through two slots.

"Maybe my mind will change a little bit, but our left-handers are used to hitting left-handers," Girardi said.

Houston's batting order had second baseman Jose Altuve leading off, followed by right fielder George Springer, Correa, left fielder Colby Ramus, center fielder Carlos Gomez, third baseman Luis Valbuena, designated hitter Preston Tucker, first baseman Marwin Gonzalez and catcher Jason Castro.

GETTING YOUNGER

At 29 years, 97 days, New York's opening-day roster is its youngest since 1992, when its average was 29 years, 52 days. The Yankees' average had not been under 30 since 1996, when New York won the first of four World Series titles in a five-year span.

CHARITABLE CAUSES

For his pregame news conference, Girardi wore a red T-shirt promoting Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa, Florida, the team's spring training home.

"Every day I'm going to try to wear a different T-shirt just to kind of recognize the things people are doing," Girardi said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers, recovering from shoulder soreness, threw a bullpen session in Florida on Sunday and is to throw a few innings in an extended spring training game Thursday. Hinch said if there are not any setbacks, McCullers would be pitching every fifth day, then go on a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment.

Yankees: Reliever Bryan Mitchell, on the disabled list after breaking a bone in his left big toe last week, was to see a doctor Monday.

UP AHEAD

Astros: Because of the rainout, Hinch said Keuchel's second start, against Milwaukee, has been pushed back a day to Sunday.

Yankees: After learning in 2014 that Tanaka had a slightly torn ligament in his pitching elbow, the Yankees tried to give him time between starts last year, when he made just five of 25 starts on four days' rest. Because of the rainout and the lost off day, Tanaka could have to pitch on normal rest Sunday at Detroit. Or Girardi could opt to start Ivan Nova, who lost to CC Sabathia in the competition for No. 5 starter.

Girardi didn't want to publicly commit.

"Who knows? We might need Nova. You might need him for four, five innings on Wednesday, Thursday or something," he said.