O’s challenge tonight: Romero is on a roll

If the Orioles are to get their struggling offense going tonight here at Camden Yards, they’ll have to do it against left-hander Ricky Romero, who is pitching very well right now.

Over his last four starts, Romero is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.21 and a .194 batting average against. He has needed just 13.9 pitches per inning in that stretch.

Romero is 5-4 with an ERA of 2.88 overall that is 10th best in the American League on the season and is 3-2 with an ERA of 3.60 in eight career starts against the Orioles.

Buck Showalter had a one-word answer initially today when asked when makes Romero a good pitcher.

“Changeup. If you look at his numbers, he’s been better against right-hander hitters than left-handers and when you see that, it tells you a guy may have a good changeup. That is his bread and butter,” Showalter said.

“I think we are seeing pitchers today feeling as confident throwing a changeup for a strike as they do a fastball. A very high majority of them.”

This year, right-handed hitters are batting .210 off Romero, as opposed to .244 for lefties. In his career, right-handed hitters bat .246 and lefties .279 against him.

Romero became the first Blue Jays lefty to win on opening day since 1989 this year when he beat Minnesota on April 1. His 27 wins the last two years are third-most for any Toronto pitcher in his first two seasons.

With that changeup such a factor for him, does Showalter think the O’s hitters need to be sitting on that pitch early in the count tonight? Or would that mean they’d struggled to hit his fastball?

“That’s the age-old question. We had it last night (against Carlos Villanueva). We all knew exactly what the guy was going to do. He did it and it’s not like they don’t believe you. But it’s one thing to say it and make the adjustment in the game. We had 10 hits last night; unfortunately they all happened what, after the fourth inning?” Showalter said.

Maybe the Orioles have a fighting chance tonight. Vlad Guerrero, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are batting a combined .388 (24-for-62) off Romero with five doubles, two homers and nine RBIs.

Guerrero is 8-for-13, Markakis is 8-for-26 and Jones is 8-for-23.

Too bad Brian Roberts is out. He is 6-for-11 with six walks in his career against Romero.

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