BRONX, N.Y. -- This was a moment when analytics couldn't really help Aaron Boone. Nor could his ability to connect with players, a skill Brian Cashman cited as a primary reason for changing managers last year.
This was, in fact, exactly the type of moment that has become all too under-valued in this era of Ivy League-educated GMs who have taken to hiring cookie-cutter managers mostly to implement data and carry out orders from the baseball ops guys.
In short, watching the game still matters. Making decisions on the fly in the dugout isn't always as easy as it looks from a luxury suite, especially in the cauldron of post-season baseball.
As such, this October was always going to be the first crucial test for Boone, someone who jumped from the broadcast booth to the Yankees dugout without having spent even one day as a coach or manager, minors or majors.
Suffice it to say, he failed one vital, perhaps pivotal, part of that test on Monday night, when Boone refused to believe what his eyes had to be telling him: that Luis Severino simply didn't have it in this Game 3 of the ALDS.
In the end, it might not have mattered if he had pulled Severino after three innings, which seemed like an obvious move at the time, considering the Red Sox went on to lay a 16-1 smackdown on the Yankees, reminding everyone in the Bronx they didn't win 108 games by accident, after all.
That the game devolved into an embarrassment, with Boone electing to use Austin Romine to pitch the ninth rather than use another reliever, might not matter either when Game 4 begins on Tuesday night.
But with the Red Sox now up 2-1, with a rejuvenated Chris Sale ready to start Game 5 in Boston, if necessary, this game sure changed the feel of a series that seemed to be starting to favor the Yankees.
Simply put, you never know if Boone could have altered the script by reacting with more urgency. The game got away so completely in the fourth inning that Nathan Eovaldi could afford to challenge Yankee hitters without any real fear of consequence.
By the third inning, it just seemed so obvious: the Sox led 3-0 and they were making a lot of hard contact. They hit seven balls off Severino with exit velocities faster than 100 mph. Furthermore, Severino admitted after the game, "I wasn't commanding my stuff," right from the first pitch.
Severino and the rest of the Yankees strongly denied that he wasn't warmed up properly, something TBS broadcaster Ron Darling wondered about on the air, noting that he didn't see the Yankee righthander start throwing in the bullpen until 7:32, eight minutes before the time of the game's first pitch.
Severino even got testy when pressed on the issue, asking how Darling would know his normal routine.
"He's not around here (all the time)," Severino said. "I'm there 20 minutes before (first pitch), and I get on the mound 10 minutes before."
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild echoed those comments, noting Severino has a relatively short warm-up of 21-26 pitches, some of which he throws while simulating facing two hitters.
"He did everything he normally does," Rothschild said. "He had time to come in and sit in the dugout for three or four minutes like he always does."
Whatever the cause, Boone admitted afterward he could see Severino wasn't sharp, especially in the third inning, so that seemed like the perfect time to lean hard on the bullpen, which has been the Yankees' intent anyway.
He already had Lance Lynn warming up, yet Boone and Rothschild decided to have Severino "try and steal a couple of outs" against the bottom of the Sox lineup in the fourth inning, wanting Lynn ready to face Boston's right-handed hitters at the top of the order.
"That was the plan," Boone said.
The plan itself was too conservative, considering the urgency of the situation, and then Boone made it worse by sitting and watching Severino give up two hits and a walk to load the bases.
By then, Lynn wasn't the right guy for the situation, a starter who has rarely come into a game as a reliever with runners on base. That doesn't excuse him for giving up two hits and a walk while facing only four hitters, but if it's the manager's job to put players in a situation to give them the best chance to succeed, as they always say, Boone failed there as well.
Again, maybe none of it would have mattered, considering Eovaldi was far and away the best pitcher in the ballpark on Monday night.
And it doesn't mean that Boone is a bad manager. It just means he had a bad night, much as Joe Girardi did at this time last year, failing to challenge a call that proved costly in a loss that put his team down 0-2 against the Indians.
The Yankees responded last year, of course, and while it won't necessarily be a referendum on the new manager if they don't do the same this time, it would surely be a reminder that there's still more to managing than crunching the numbers and carrying out even the best-laid plans of the front office.