Twins aim to avoid being swept by Jays

Fernando Romero makes his big league debut Wednesday afternoon when the Minnesota Twins try to avoid a sweep by the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field.

The Twins’ No. 2 prospect heading into the season, Romero posted a 2.57 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 10 walks in 21 innings of work this season with Triple-A Rochester.

“He’s been pretty good,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s had some command issues down there as well. We know that he’s got high-end stuff. It’s fun to watch him pitch. Not lacking in confidence.”

Minnesota is hoping Romero’s debut can provide a spark for a team that’s lost 12 of its last 14 games and 11 of its last 12. He regularly throws a slider and changeup to complement a fastball that tops out in the high-90s. Command is still an issue at times, but Molitor has been impressed with what he’s seen.

“Last year, his first year in big league camp, he thought he was going to make the team, which was good,” Molitor said with a laugh. “This year, I think he handled everything a little bit better and he understood the things that he had to do to get here. You’re not sure if he’s going to take it and run with it right away.”

The Twins will need to make a roster move before the game. They made a pair Tuesday night, placing third baseman Miguel Sano on the 10-day disabled list and selecting the contact of Gregorio Petit to take his place.

Sano has been out since Sunday with a sore left hamstring.

“I’m hoping it’s on the short end,” Molitor said. “Whether it’s gonna be 10 days or a little bit more than that — a couple weeks — we’ll have to see.”

Right-hander Marcus Stroman gets the start Wednesday for Toronto, still looking to find his form. He’s allowed at least six runs in his last two starts — doing so for just the second time in his career and is walking an average of 5.3 batters per nine innings.

Should he struggle to go deep, manager John Gibbons will turn to his bullpen early again. The Blue Jays’ relievers lead the American League with a 7-2 record, a 2.16 ERA while covering 95 2/3 innings this season.

“Up to this point, I think we’ve done an unbelievable job,” said Ryan Tepera, who has a 1.98 ERA this season. “The starters are getting there. They haven’t gone too deep into games but we’ve been able to pick them up and keep us in the game and get out of some tight spots.”

To manage the workload, Gibbons has used an eight-man bullpen, and plans to keep doing so until the starting rotation stabilizes.

“It’s just the way the game works nowadays and how we’re set up down there,” Gibbons said. “It would make it easier (to keep eight relievers all season). … You almost have to do it. Starters generally don’t go as long as they used to.”