Romo to make first career start as Rays visit Angels

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Sergio Romo is expected to make the first start of his 11-year career Saturday night against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.

The Rays (21-22) have won five straight games.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told reporters after a 7-1 victory in the series opener Thursday night that the right-handed Romo matched up well against the top of the order for Los Angeles, which is usually stacked with right-handed hitters.

Cash said he plans to bring in rookie left-hander Ryan Yarbrough after Romo gets through the first five or six hitters.

“It allows us, in theory, to let Sergio come in there and play the matchup game in the first (inning), which is somewhat unheard of, up until Saturday anyway,” Cash said. “Then, Yarbs can, in theory, have the availability to get deeper in the game. There’s no more secret about the third time through the order, everybody knows that. And that’s kind of what this is about.”

Romo has made 588 career appearances out of the bullpen.

Troy Percival (638), Todd Jones (632) and Chuck McElroy (603) are the only pitchers to have had more relief appearances than Romo before making their first career start, STATS confirmed.

Zack Cozart, Andrelton Simmons, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the top four hitters in the Angels’ lineup Friday, are all right-handed hitters who are a combined 4-for-17 off Romo (1-0, 4.96 ERA).

Justin Upton, who normally hits third but sat out Friday after getting hit in the forearm with a pitch Thursday, is 1-for-17 off Romo, and his replacement in left field on Friday, Michael Young, who is also a right-handed hitter, is 1-for-13.

Romo has made five appearances against the Angels, recording a 4.15 ERA without earning a decision.

The Angels (25-20) have lost four straight to match their longest losing streak of the season.

They’ll turn to left-hander Andrew Heaney (2-2, 3.93), who hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his past four starts. His most recent outing was the best of the season, as he allowed one run, four hits and struck out 10 over eight innings in a 2-1 victory against the visiting Houston Astros on Monday, but the Angels haven’t won since.

“He threw one of the best games I’ve seen him throw,” Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun told the Los Angeles Times.

Heaney will be making his first career appearance against Tampa Bay.

The Rays came into the series last in the American League in home runs with 37, but have hit six balls over the fence in the first two games of this series.

Rays first baseman Brad Miller doesn’t have a home run in the series, but is 5-for-10. He’s also 2-for-2 in his career off Heaney.

Angels center fielder Mike Trout ended a career-long 0-for-21 streak with a solo home run in the eighth inning Friday.

Michael Hermosillo was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday and made his major league debut as the starter in right field for Los Angeles. He doubled in his first at bat before finishing 1-for-4 with three strikeouts.