NEW YORK -- Shh! Don’t say it. You can think it, but don’t say it.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Red Sox are seven games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot in the American League East, and only 5½ games behind the Yankees for the wild card. Plus, Boston and New York will play four more times.
“I think we’ve got a chance,” said Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, who improved to 19-8 after pitching seven scoreless innings Saturday. “With that being said, it’s a long road. You wouldn’t think [eight games remaining] is a long road, but weirder things have happened in baseball. We’ve got four more against the Yankees, and we’ll see. All we can do is go out and play hard, put up a good effort, and we don’t expect anything less from the guys in this clubhouse.
“We’re going to go out and battle and grind it out. We’ll see where we’re at in a couple of days.”
The Red Sox players are taking a one-game-at-a-time attitude, but it’s now realistic to believe they could actually pull this off.
“We’ll keep going out there and keep playing and see what happens,” Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez said. “We’re making sure we’re finishing the season strong.
“This just shows everybody what kind of team we’ve got. Obviously, we’ve had a really tough time earlier in the season, and we’ve lost a lot of guys in the lineup, and there’s nothing you can do about that. We’re trying to win ballgames. We’ll go out there and play hard.”