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Are Red Sox still in contention? Pedroia: 'Play with that mindset'

Dustin Pedroia said the Red Sox are still playing with the mindset that they're contending for a spot in the postseason. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

BOSTON -- In the daily packet of statistics produced by Major League Baseball and distributed to the media, there is a page devoted to the wild-card race. Tuesday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox were still listed as one of 11 contenders for the two wild-card spots, tied for ninth with the Orioles, 7 ½ games behind the current wild-card qualifiers, the Yankees and Rangers.

After Boston beat division-leading Toronto, 11-4, in the first game of the teams’ three-game set here Monday night, Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo was asked if he considered the Sox to be in contention.

“That’s a loaded question,’’ Lovullo said. “If I say 'no, that we have no chance' then I’m a crazy man. If I say 'yes,' I’m crazy for believing it.

“But I will say this. Until we have an 'e' [for eliminated] next to our name, our kids are playing aggressive baseball. And they believe something special has happened here.’’

The Red Sox have a 15-8 record since Lovullo stepped in as interim manager for John Farrell, who is undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. That’s the fourth-best record in baseball in that span, although two of the teams ahead of the Red Sox, the Blue Jays (15-7) and Yankees (16-8) play in the same division. The Rangers lead with a 17-7 record.

Veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing 57 games with a strained right hamstring, raised the topic voluntarily.

“I just keep telling the guys to win every game we’re in,’’ Pedroia said. “That’s basically the truth. We’re not eliminated. I know everyone thinks I’m crazy anyway, but that’s the way I look at it. That’s the way I want all our guys to look at it.

“We’ve got guys in here that are showing up every day, playing the game the right way. You want to build that mindset into them. If you’re 15 games in first, you’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to keep playing the same way. It doesn’t matter what the score says or where you are in the standings, you’ve got to play a certain way.

“The guys are doing that every day. It’s been fun.’’