“DO NOT LET MANNY RAMIREZ BEAT YOU” – those are the 6 words the New York Post’s Joel Sherman figures Yankee skipper Joe Girardi managed to ignore Saturday in allowing Mike Mussina to face the Red Sox left fielder with two on, two out and first base wide open yesterday at Fenway. Considering the violence with which Manny connected for a home run over the monster seats earlier in the day, in might not be long before the likes of Sherman advise issuing Ramirez a free pass if he comes up with the bases empty during a scoreless tie.

Girardi, in accord with Mike Mussina, somehow decided that working to Ramirez with a base open and Boston down a run was favorable to facing Kevin Youkilis with the bases loaded.

Youkilis is a nice player, but Ramirez is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer with an endless highlight reel of wrecking the Yankee spirit. Ramirez responded as the script would suggest, crushing a first-pitch two-run double that moved Boston ahead for good in the sixth of what would be a 4-3 triumph. Mussina blamed a bad pitch. But it starts with a bad decision.

“That is a decision I made and I have to live with it,” Girardi said.

Girardi recognized this as “the most impactful decision” he has made strategically in 12 games as the Yankees’ manager. It is the kind of decision that you can prepare for as a heady catcher and a season in charge of the Marlins. But there is nothing like having to choose when it is your final call. Yankees-Red Sox. At Fenway Park. Game on the line. Let’s put it this way: Nothing that happened in any Marlin game in 2006 will stir debate and criticism like this preference in the second week of this season.

Scott Olson and Jeffrey Loria were unavailable for comment.