However the script goes, ALDS Game 5 is Joe Girardi's redemption song
The most egregious error among that group, though, was seemingly Joe Girardi's decision not to challenge the Lonnie Chisenhall hit by pitch in the sixth inning of ALDS Game 2, a decision that ultimately resulted in Chisenhall taking first and Francisco Lindor following with a grand slam that tied the game, one Cleveland ultimately won.
What Michael Kay calls "the fallacy of the predetermined outcome" warns us not to believe the sequence would have turned out differently had Girardi challenged and won, but immediately, the skipper issued a mea culpa for his handling of the situation.
"Obviously, I take responsibility for everything, and I feel horrible about it," Girardi said on Saturday of the decision. "Does it change the complexion of the game? Yeah, it sure could have. Do we know that for sure? No. But I've always taken responsibilities for losses, and the guys know that. We've had each other's backs all year long, and we'll continue to have that."
In this case, Girardi was exactly right, because the Yankees have picked up their manager. From an 0-2 hole they've come back to tie the series at 2-2, sending it back to Cleveland for a winner-take-all Game 5 on Wednesday night, and he exulted in that following the Game 4 win that sealed the deal.
"That's as difficult a loss as I've had as a manager, and it's difficult because I care so much," Girardi said Monday night. "It's not just caring about myself, it's caring about everyone else that is involved and that is wrapped up in the Yankee baseball. Whether it's the fans, the front office, the owner, the players, the trainers, the support staff, the coaches…I really care. And, you know, we've gotten it back to 2-2, and we got a shot now. These guys have picked me up."
It wasn't an easy road to get there, though, and that started when Girardi was heartily booed by a capacity crowd in the Bronx during the player introductions prior to Game 3.
"Not the first time, but I kind of expected it, you know? I've seen them boo players and managers that have a lot more status than I do, so I was prepared for it, and I prepared my family for it," Girardi said Sunday night. "But that's life, and it's not going to change who I am. It's no fun to be booed, but our fans are passionate and they want to win, and they get upset when we don't win or when someone makes a mistake in their eyes. So that's all part of it."
The road continued through Game 3, where Masahiro Tanaka needed to match zeroes with Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco until Greg Bird homered off Andrew Miller for the game's lone run, and the path to redemption came nearly complete when Luis Severino threw seven strong innings to win Game 4.
Even if, per that fallacy of the predetermined outcome, scuttlebutt after Game 4 came back to that Game 2 gaffe, mainly in the narrative that the Yankees could have won Game 2, and, thus, Game 4's win would've wrapped up the series.
"This is what happens in life. Everything you do is not going to be perfect," Girardi said, "and as I said, I'm always going to do my best. That's what I do, but it's not always going to be perfect."
"I think Joe is a great manager, but he's human, and he makes mistakes," Severino added. "But, we've got a great, young team that's hungry, and every day, we're going to give 100 percent and try to win."
The Yankees will be doing that in Game 5, too, and a win will give them a date with the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series. Of course, a loss will not only end the Yankees' season, but also likely continue the narrative that Girardi cost his team Game 2 and thus the series, but the skipper is focused only on the positive.
"Obviously it's really important for everyone, because we want to move on, but we got back to this spot by fighting, and we're going to need to do it again," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line."
And, even though Cleveland hasn't lost three straight games since July 30-August 1 - with two of those being walk-off losses - the Yankees have plenty of reasons to be confident Wednesday night, none more notable than them already being 3-0 in elimination games this October.
"The fact that we've been able to play in some of these games, I think that helps," Girardi said. "You play in the game against Minnesota, then games where you're down 2-0 and 2-1, facing a guy we really didn't do anything off of the last time. We know we're facing a good team and a tough pitcher (Corey Kluber) who is probably going to be Cy Young, but there's a lot of confidence in that room, and they pick each other up. We've been in some tough situations, but I think these guys feel good about themselves."
Sounds like a familiar narrative, doesn't it?