Trailing, 5-2, with two out and runners at first and second, the Yankees appeared to catch a big break when, of all things, rookie Robinson Cano struck out.
The break was that the pitch from Angels reliever Ervin Santana got away from catcher Bengie Molina, and with Cano running up the line, first baseman Darin Erstad didn't get a good look at Molina's throw, which squirted into right field.
The New York dugout exploded, looking forward to seeing what Bernie Williams could do with the bases loaded.
Almost immediately, however, home plate umpire Joe West stepped in and killed the buzz under baseball's Rule 6.05 (k), which says the runner is out if, "in running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire's judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base."
Said Cano: "I was very surprised. He said I was out of the line, but I was right on the line."
Yankees manager Joe Torre shot out of the dugout to join Cano in protest, but the call stood and the Angels ran off the field.
"I didn't see a replay of that, but you hate to have those things called unless they are really obvious," Torre said. "As I say, I didn't see a replay, so I don't know one way or the other."
Alex Rodriguez, who was at second base when the play started, admitted that he didn't have the best view in the world but agreed wholeheartedly with Torre.
"I thought it was a tough call to make at that point in the game," Rodriguez said. "It was just too close to step in and make that call. In that situation, I wish the umpires would let us play. Unless it's obvious, and it wasn't, you can't make that call."
"I don't think Joe had his best game," said Yankees starting pitcher Mike Mussina. "The call on the first-base line was interesting, to say the least."
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said it was just one of several breaks that didn't go New York's way throughout the five-game set.
"They were a little bit more ... lucky than we were," he said. "They got some calls to go their way, and it just didn't happen for us."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.