Yet the fifth inning on Wednesday didn't exactly present a comfortable situation -- that much is clear. Starter Chien-Ming Wang's ineffectiveness crested in that inning, his worst to date this season. One hit turned into two, then three, then four, then five. By the time Wang left the game, he had faced five Red Sox hitters in the inning. All five reached base, and three of them scored.
"I think we battled back and repeated and made that a game twice," Sox catcher Jason Varitek said. "We did a great job getting [Wang] out of there."
Oh, and they weren't done. Two more hits off reliever Ross Ohlendorf led to three more runs, two of them charged to Wang. So there were the Yankees, beaten and quite battered, lamenting an inning that could have -- and probably should have -- cost them the game.
Then there were the Yankees, rounding the bases themselves, firing back with every bit of ammunition they could muster. Already having knocked Sox starter Clay Buchholz out of the game, they went to work instead on long reliever Julian Tavarez. Perhaps they took notes from the opposing dugout, because they turned one hit into two and then three, even sprinkling in two walks. By the time they were done, Tavarez had given back four runs in all, completing an inning that saw the two teams combine for 10 of them.
Hideki Matsui sparked the bottom half, rounding third base on Jorge Posada's double and chugging all the way home, then avoiding Varitek's tag with a nifty slide toward the infield. The next three Yankees all reached base, stumping Sox manager Terry Francona. With Buchholz out of the game so early, he couldn't dip further into a depleted 'pen.
"Tonight, we go to Tavarez, and if he struggles, that's what happens. We really didn't have anywhere else to go," said Francona.
So instead, a long game stretched only longer. After all, hitting is "contagious," as Alex Rodriguez noted, and the Yankees and Sox both seemed to catch the bug.
"I think the guys are very focused in high-scoring, low-scoring [games]," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Each guy goes from at-bat to at-bat and tries to grind it out. Obviously on a night like tonight, you're going to need a few runs."
A few? Try 10 in one inning, and 24 in all. These are the Yankees and the Sox, after all, and this is the Bronx -- where the bizarre comes routine. Enough is rarely enough.
"These are two good teams, two heavyweight fighters," Rodriguez said. "We're going to go at it all summer, like we do every year."