Weekend starters still undecided

The Orioles haven't listed a starter for Sunday's game in Boston that closes out the first half, but if you do the math, it's Mitch Atkins' turn in the rotation.

Atkins held the Rangers to one run over six innings last night. He didn't walk a batter and threw 58 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

As I pointed out in another entry, he retired the side only once in those six innings. He didn't dominate, but he didn't fold, either.

Atkins gave the Orioles a quality start.

Somebody had to do it.

Atkins made his first major league start after seven relief appearances with the Cubs. He barely got noticed in spring training because of his oblique injury. Other than a few side sessions, we never saw him throw a pitch. And to be honest, I wasn't paying close attention to his side sessions.

The Cubs selected Atkins in the seventh round of the 2004 draft out of Northeast Guilford (N.C.) High School. The Orioles signed him as a minor league free agent on Nov. 15, 2010.

"We've had prospect reports on this guy, really, through his time with the Cubs," said president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "Jim (Hendry) and I talk about a lot of different deals. He's sort of been in and out of deals different times over the course of the past couple years.

"At this stage of the game, I'm really relying on John (Stockstill) and the farm system, who's throwing the ball best now, and that's who gets the call. Obviously, it's not anything based on what we saw in spring training because he was hurt."

Atkins was good enough last night to contain an explosive Rangers lineup. Perhaps he'll get the chance to do the same to the Red Sox before the All-Star break.

Still no word on whether Chris Jakubauskas will make his next start on Saturday.

Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound tonight for the Orioles. So far, he's proven that it's possible to lose 10 games and carry a 3.93 ERA. It just takes a little work.

The Orioles supplied him with one hit in his last start. Maybe they can spoil him tonight and double that total.

On another note, Cal Ripken trails Stan Musial in the voting for Most Memorable All-Star Game Moment. They reached the finals of the mlb.com bracket, upsetting Duke and UConn along the way.

Feel free to check it out here and cast a vote.

I dialed into yesterday's conference call with Ripken and was amused by one of the dumbest questions I've heard in all my years in the business.

Ripken was asked about Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 hits and how he felt while chasing the same milestone - the exact same question presented to him one minute earlier. Ripken politely answered it again, and was hit by this gem (I'm paraphrasing here):

"Do you think Jeter is feeling any pressure because he plays in New York?"

You mean the place he's played his entire career?

Wow.

Ripken chuckled and politely pointed out the obvious.

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