Up until about 8:24 ET Monday night, every move manager Yankees manager Joe Girardi made in this postseason turned out golden. Toss out three pitchers for three batters in the extra innings of a key Game 2? Fine! Have faith in a side bullpen you'd never had much trust in before? All right! Lose your DH because Johnny Damon has a noodle arm? No problem! The Yankees have felt blessed so far. And then the bills finally came due.
When Girardi took out David Robertson with two outs in the 11th tonight, you wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. The rest has worked! Why not? This is our year! And then the Angels rallied, and then the ball was in the gap, and then, suddenly, it was over. This series is closer than anyone had anticipated it to be.
The Yankees lost tonight, 5-4, and on the surface, it's not a big deal. They're still up 2-1 in the series, and they still have the general vibe of dominance that Girardi and Co. have been assuming all week. Yankees fans have to feel more confident with CC Sabathia throwing Tuesday than Scott Kazmir, no matter how much the Angels might miss him.
But still: The armor of invincibility that A-Rod has bestowed upon the team all this series and it has been him has a tiny dent in it now. The Yankees can lose now. The Angels are playing to win too. We might have a real series on our hands.
Girardi is surely, at this moment, answering questions about his highly questionable decisions. But this is the postseason: This is the time for highly questionable decisions. What matters is that now, those decisions, which had worked out so perfectly beforehand, have gone wrong. This isn't going to be easy.
Game 4 stars at 7:57 on Tuesday. It's time to start seriously paying attention.