BOSTON -- Like or it not, Alex Rodriguez is having an impact on the AL East race.
"He got a couple of knocks, but one guy is not going to beat us," Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks said.
Since returning to the Yankees' lineup on Aug. 5, Rodriguez is batting .300 with four runs scored, one home run, four RBIs and four walks in 10 games.
While fans at Fenway showered A-Rod with boos throughout Friday’s Sox-Yankees series opener, they weren’t alone in voicing their displeasure with the embattled slugger. Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester joined Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in opining that Rodriguez shouldn’t be in the lineup while he’s appealing his 211-game suspension for his part in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal.
"Especially in our division, this guy can turn some things around, affect the game one way or another coming down the stretch," Lester said before Friday’s game. "If that means us not making the playoffs, or Tampa, or whatever, I don’t think that’s right."
Red Sox manager John Farrell was more measured in his comments regarding Rodriguez’s presence.
"I think we’re all certainly well aware of the situation he’s in and it clearly is within his rights to appeal," Farrell said. "That’s really all I’ve got to say about it. He’s taking advantage of the process that is clearly his right so we’ll see how that all plays out."
As for the fourth-place Yankees, Farrell said it’s too early to rule them out of the postseason equation.
"I don’t think anyone has written them off by any means," Farrell said. "We’ve got nine more games remaining against them. They’ve got a completely different look to their lineup than we saw a month ago and they’ve got a lot of life right now. I thought [Andy Pettitte tonight was much more sharp than the last time we faced him. Almost looked rejuvenated in a way, stuff was more crisp. They’re obviously feeling pretty good about themselves right now."
Rodriguez seems likely to remain in the lineup until the end of the season, boosting New York’s chance to close the gap in the division.
"Offensively they did good," Red Sox DH David Ortiz said. "The situation they’re into right now, they had a lack of offense for a while, and now they’re swinging the bat pretty well."
Dustin Pedroia echoed Ortiz in giving credit to the Yankees, but he still has confidence in what the Red Sox can do.
"They have great players. They’re the New York Yankees. They figure out a way to play well," Pedroia said. "We have great players also."