In must-win mode, Orioles will face lefty making major league debut

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A split of this four-game series doesn’t seem sufficient for the Orioles as they fall further back in the wild card race, but it sure beats losing three of four or being swept.

Not by much, but it’s preferred.

The Rays were going to start Jeremy Hellickson today, but he was needed in relief during Friday night’s 18-inning marathon. Instead, they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Enny Romero, 22, who will be making his major league debut.

Would the Rays have given the ball to a more experienced pitcher such as Roberto Hernandez if they hadn’t won the last two games?

Romero was 11-7 with a 2.76 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A Montgomery, with 110 hits, 73 walks and 110 strikeouts in 140 1/3 innings. Opponents batted .215 against him.

Romero made one Triple-A start, shutting out Norfolk on four hits over eight innings on Sept. 2. You think Orioles manager Buck Showalter picked the brains of Tides manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin last night?

Romero has been chosen to the last two Futures Games, and his fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays’ switch to a left-hander could lead to another start for Michael Morse, who’s 3-for-26 with the Orioles. Or would Showalter start Steve Pearce in left field while keeping Danny Valencia as his designated hitter.

Should be interesting.

Scott Feldman will make his 14th start for the Orioles and his sixth on the road. He’s 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 11 games against the Rays, and 3-1 with a 2.03 in five starts (four quality).

Feldman has allowed four earned runs in 12 innings over two starts at Tropicana Field.

David DeJesus is 6-for-11 with a double, home run and six walks against Feldman. Keep an eye on him atop the Rays’ order.

Ben Zobrist is 1-for-13. Evan Longoria is 2-for-13 with a double and home run.

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