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Thursday, Jan 17, 2019
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Rays morning after: Tough challenge ahead in Anaheim

Having swept one of the lesser American League teams in the Royals, the Rays tonight open a four-game series against one of the better in the Angels.

"It'll be challenging," manager Kevin Cash said. "They did some big things this off-season, and they had a pretty good lineup before some of their additions."

The signing of two-way Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani – whom the Rays and others also pursued hotly – has gotten most of the attention, but the Angels also added Ian Kinsler and Zack Cosart to a lineup that included Justin Upton, Albert Pujols and that Mike Trout guy, who many consider the best player in the game.

"It's an impressive group," said Chris Archer, who starts tonight.

The Angels are pretty much a top-five team across the board offensively, and can play good defense, led by SS Andrelton Simmons. Their pitching, though is suspect, especially with closer Keynan Middleton going on the DL.

The Rays are catching the Angels as a bit of down time, as they the last two to the AL West leading Astros to drop to 25-18.

And they will see a few familiar faces, including backup catcher Rene Rivera, who was with them in 2015. Two former Rays are now coaches, Josh Paul on the bench and Eric Hinske in charge of hitting.

RELATED: As Rays sweep Royals, is there reason again to believe?

The Rays (19-22)  feel confident after their sweep but know it will be a tough challenge.

"They're loaded," 1B Brad Miller said. "They have a great lineup and a great group of guys."

Though there plenty of interest in seeing Ohtani, who will be in lineup for the first couple games and then on the mound Sunday. Cash seems more concerned with some of the more established players.

"There's another couple guys in that lineup you have to be really curious about," he said.

The series with the Angels continues the Rays first trip of 11 or more games since 2016 and to three time zones since 2008.

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