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Rays in midst of key 10-game stretch

TORONTO -- Beginning Friday night, the Rays embark on a 10-game stretch on the road in which they will play the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees.

While the Rays took a 14-2 run into the All-Star break, the next 10 games appear critical to the team's playoff hopes.

"Really can't worry about it too much," right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said. "These three games right here are going to be as tough as they get. Just have to go out and win this series first."

Ben Zobrist called the stretch "important."

"These are all division games," Zobrist said. "And we're playing the Red Sox four right in the middle of it. So, it's important. We're going to have to be ready to play. And hopefully we can pick up that team mojo where we left off Sunday."

Evan Longoria acknowledged the importance of the road trip, but would not concede that it's a make-it-or-break-it stretch.

"I don't know if that would be accurate in assuming that if we split on this road trip or don't come out with a winning record that that means we're not going to make the playoffs," Longoria said. "I mean, obviously, if we have a really good road trip after the break and continue on the same path that we were on before, in playing really good baseball and winning ballgames. Then you like your chances going forward. And you like your odds at making the playoffs.

"But I still think there's a little too much time to say that 10 games is the make-or-break point of the season. I know we're further along than the halfway point, but with a little more than 60 games remaining, I don't think 10 games -- unless you lose all 10, you don't put yourself in a good spot -- I don't know if this will be indicative of the rest of the year."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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