Preview: Rays go with opener Sergio Romo for first game against Mariners

TV: FOX Sports Sun

TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 9:30 p.m.

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When Tampa Bay traded reliever Alex Colome to the Seattle Mariners last week in a four-player deal that included outfielder Denard Span, Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked who his new closer would be.

Colome, after all, led the American League with 47 saves last season.

“I think it’s going to be pretty fluid,” Cash said.

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Then he joked: “Maybe we’ll do a starter in there. Start the bullpen, bring a starter in to close. I’ll talk to (Chris) Archer here after I’m done with this (media) session.”

When pressed, Cash said he planned to use Jose Alvarado and Chaz Roe, as well as Sergio Romo on occasion.

Friday will not be one of those occasions since Romo is scheduled to start the series opener in Seattle in the Rays’ unique new strategy of using relievers at the beginning of some games.

“But I don’t think we’re in a position to sit there and name a closer right now,” Cash said. “We’ve learned over many years of doing this that games are won and lost in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, and we want to be prepared to use who we feel is best equipped to get those outs right then. And then we’ll figure out the ninth.”

Romo (1-1, 6.33 ERA) got his first save of the season Tuesday in Oakland despite allowing two runs.

This will be the fifth abbreviated start of the season for Romo, 35, an 11-year veteran who made 588 career relief appearances before start No. 1.

In his first, he struck out the side in the first inning May 19 against the host Los Angeles Angels. He came back the next day and struck out three more in 1 1/3 innings.

The past two starts haven’t gone as well. He allowed a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning May 25 against Baltimore, taking the loss in a 2-0 defeat. Two days later, he gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in one-third of an inning in a game the Rays rallied to beat the Orioles 8-3.

“It’s an opportunity to help my team out in a different situation, in a different inning, but with the same concept,” Romo told USA Today. “The concept in our job is to get outs, regardless of the inning. It’s fun that it’s the beginning and I’m all for it. If they think I help the team out best doing this, OK, let’s do it. If they think in another form or fashion, I’m in.”

Romo is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four career appearances against Seattle.

The Mariners are scheduled to start right-hander Mike Leake (5-3, 4.93 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two career starts against Tampa Bay.

Leake is coming off his best game of the season. He allowed one run on four hits in eight innings Sunday in a 3-1 victory against Minnesota to complete a three-game sweep of the Twins.

“It was an outstanding series and our pitching staff really took care of business,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after that game. “The roll we’ve been on has been driven by our pitching. It was everything the doctor ordered today to get eight innings out of Mike.”