Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson each hit two home runs and combined to drive in 10 runs.
The Red Sox ended the season 69-93, their lowest point since the 1965 team lost 100 games.
For a generation of fans, this was the worst team of their lifetime. The Sox lost their final eight games, the longest streak since 2001. In all, they dropped an incredible 22 of their final 29 games, including 12 of the last 13.
Valentine could get fired as soon as Thursday morning. For the second straight season, the Red Sox will be looking for a new manager.
“I’m not going to talk about it,” general manager Ben Cherington said with a stone face.
Valentine took a long look at the field from the top step of the dugout when the game ended, before speaking briefly to his players. His postgame press conference was a study in restraint.
“Very disappointing season, extremely disappointing,” he said. “I don’t know how it could be more challenging than this season.”
Is he worried about his job security?
“My life will be fine,” Valentine said.
The victory gave the Yankees (95-67) home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. They will start the postseason Sunday at Baltimore or Texas.
The Red Sox, fittingly, sent their worst starter to the mound for the final game.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, pitching on 13 days’ rest, performed like he has for the last four seasons, giving up five runs before being taken out in the third inning of what was surely his final game with the team.
“I didn’t expect my six years to end the way it did. It’s really hard on me mentally for a while now,” Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. “But there were some great memories . . . I’m really disappointed and very apologetic that I wasn’t able to perform to my expectations.”
Matsuzaka would end his Boston career at 50-37 with a 4.52 ERA. Counting the posting fee paid to his team in Japan in 2005, it cost the Red Sox $103 million to get 668⅓
innings of below-average pitching for six seasons.
Matsuzaka retired the Yankees in order on six pitches in the first inning. It was only a tease.
Cano led off the bottom of the second with a single before Matsuzaka walked Nick Swisher. With one out, Matsuzaka left a 91-mile-per-hour fastball over the plate and Granderson sent it deep into the stands in right field.
Matsuzaka (1-7) didn’t survive the third inning. Alex Rodriguez singled before Cano launched a home run into the second deck in right, a monumental shot.
When Swisher followed with a single, Valentine finally pulled Matsuzaka from the game.
It was the fifth time in his last seven starts that Matsuzaka was unable to get through four innings.
The Yankees added to their lead in the fifth inning against Clayton Mortensen when Rodriguez doubled to left and Cano hit his second home run, again to right field. That made it 7-1.
The lead grew to 9-1 in the sixth. After Pedro Beato loaded the bases with one out, Scott Atchison was called in to face Cano and allowed a two-run single to right. That Cano didn’t hit it out seemed like a victory.
The single left Cano 24 of 39 (.615) with seven doubles, three home runs, and 14 RBIs over nine games. As the Yankees start pursuit of another championship, Cano has become their best player.
Granderson hit his second homer of the game in the seventh inning, a shot to right-center off righthander Chris Carpenter.
Carpenter is the pitcher the Red Sox obtained from the Cubs as compensation for general manager Theo Epstein walking away from the Sox after last September’s historic collapse. Epstein’s Cubs lost 101 games.
Granderson joined Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Tino Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, and Babe Ruth as the only Yankees to hit at least 43 home runs in a season.
The Yankees hit 245 home runs, a franchise record. They hit 43 against the Red Sox, another record. The Sox were 5-13 against the Yankees, the worst record against their rivals since 2001. They were outscored, 116-70.
As Matsuzaka and the Red Sox bullpen struggled, Hiroki Kuroda (16-11) methodically dispatched the Sox.
He allowed a run in the first inning when Jacoby Ellsbury, playing in his second consecutive game, walked and scored on a two-out single by Cody Ross.
The Sox did not score again until the seventh inning when Yankee killer Pedro Ciriaco doubled and scored on a two-out single by rookie Jose Iglesias. It was the second RBI of the season for Iglesias in 77 plate appearances.
“Nobody feels worse than we do,” Ross said. “We kept battling and didn’t give up. That’s all you can ask for when you have a tough season like we did.”
Before the game, Valentine was asked about the obstacles he faced in trying to guide the fractured Red Sox. He dismissed the question with a wave.
“I had every opportunity to succeed,” he said, “and didn’t.”Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.