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July 6, 2011

Atkins pitches well by throwing strikes -- amazing

It would be real easy to hammer the offense again -- 12 hits and just two runs; 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and now 0-for-10 in this series -- but it’s late and I’ll end this night on a positive note.

Mitch Atkins, in his first major league start, his first Orioles game and eighth major league appearance, pitched well against a great Texas Rangers lineup.

He was hitting only the low 90s with his fastball. So how did he do it?

It’s a crazy, novel formula that may be new to all of you:

He threw strikes: 58 in 90 pitches. He didn’t walk a guy. He kept attacking the strike zone, and the Rangers kept beating his cutter into the ground or popping his fastball in the air.

“I have got a few pitches I can throw in different counts and I trust in my catcher and what he put down, and that really helped,” said Atkins, who allowed two or fewer walks in six of his eight Triple-A starts this year.

I’m not sure whether Atkins can keep another good offense -- like the Boston Red Sox's if he gets another start on this road trip -- at bay. His margin for error looks pretty small. But you have to be impressed with the way he pitched, especially after not throwing at all this spring because of an oblique injury.

Here is Showalter’s take on the 25-year-old’s start:

“I'll take a little breath at some point and realize what a nice night it was for a young man to come over to a new organization at 25, battled his way back from a few injuries to make starts at three different places and have it kind of get to this point where he can get some return at this point. I know the long face he had during the spring when he just couldn't show us what he was capable of doing. He's battled through this whole season and gave us a good chance to win. We are all frustrated that we weren't able to cash it in for him.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 12:20 AM | | Comments (12)


Nice story about Mitch, Jeff! He lived in our condo building last season when he was playing for AAA I-Cubs! I am so happy he had a good start tonight! You couldn't meet a nicer guy!

What a shame for Atkins.

His chances of repeating tonight feat? Slim. Still, go look what Matusz did tonight in the minors to see the little choice this club even has any longer.

Another nail in the heart - Matt Albers' numbers through tonight:
33.1 IP, 29 H, 10 ER, 30 K, 2.70 ERA.

Just flat-out ridiculous how snakebitten this organization is.

Take one possible feel-good story of Mitch Atkins in the midst of all the losing, and even this turns into heartbreak and frustration.


can you blame the Orioles for letting Albers go?

in his 3 years in Baltimore he had a 4.60 ERA

this year is an anomaly for him so far and not the norm

Do you have any updates on the Dylan Bundy negotiations? Given the Oriole's track record developing talent it seems inconceivable he or his agent would wager his future on such a hapless organization. Are they upping the reported $50 million asking price or are they going to wait until next year to see if a better organization (meaning anyone but the Orioles" will draft him?

Jeff Z's reply: As has been written many times, this is going to go right down to the Aug.15 deadline. Same holds true with most of the top guys. It wouldn't even surprise me if the two sides really don't start talking specifics until the first couple of days of August.

Good for Atkins. It's a shame we couldn't get the job done for him.

As far as the Matt Albers comment, numbers can be deceiving. I watched him pitch the last couple of days and he's still the same guy. He doesn't throw strikes and if he didn't have a great defense behind him his ERA would be twice what it is. We lost nothing letting him go.

well Kenny, if you consider a horrid middle of the lineup, playing below average defense, having the worst pitching in the league, no organizational depth, a pitching coach quitting after 50 games, and a GM who has decided on a 10 year plan to rebuild the franchise on the backs of the most fickle commodity in all of sports(young pitching), as being snakebitten, I agree.

Here is my take Dan, Showalter bombed last night.

Is there any circumstance (other than having a younger M. Rivera in the pen) when a pitcher has given up 1 run through 6 on 90 pitches when he should come out of the game? Let's add to that the fact that it's been a month since an O's starter has pitched past the 7th inning.

It's the same darn thing every year. O's starters can't get deep into games. Then, when they have the chance too, our manager hits the panic button around the 90 pitch mark. Then the excuses start to fly: he was gassed, the humidity was high, it would have been his third time through the order and they would have had him figured out.

Garbage. That's all that decision was last night by Buck. Complete garbage. We had an opportunity to spot start this guy and miraculously save the pen in a game in Arlington, yet Mr. Savior takes a page from Trembley's How To Manage A Baseball Game and brings in his "7th inning guy."

What a load of crap. There is a lot wrong with this organization, but I honestly can't take how our pitchers are handled. If you aren't given the chance to throw 120 pitches, then your arm will never be able to do so. You then become a 90 pitch-limit guy.


you always like starters to go deep into teh game. last night game time temp was 102 and in the 5th inning it had dropped to a cool 98. atkins struggled in the 6th but pitched out of trouble. buck made the right call bringing in johnson but the result was poor. one thing i can't understand considering the lack of depth in pitching is why don't clubs have their young pitchers in the minors work on 3 days rest and work at pitching late into games. for decades that system worked in baseball and without a lot of the injuries guys seem to get today. i have heard that teams have a large investment in players but to get return on that investment players have to play not sit on the bench or pitch 5 innings an outing.


First of all, I don't agree that his numbers aren't real. He's improved in every statistical category. Less walks, more K's, much better WHIP.

Agreed he stunk the last TWO years - he had a nice year in 2008. Regardless, I didn't disagree with the decision to let him go - I was happy to see him go. Point was that this organization is snakebitten - guy goes to Boston and turns into a valuable commodity. Francona obviously thinks so, since he uses him in close games.

Atkins pitched a good six innings. He should be put in the rotation until he shows that he can't handle it. 2nd bad game for Jim Johnson. Is his arm tired

My name is Mitch Atkins. I'll be your substitute starter tonight.

(@6:35pm 07/05/2011)

Atkins had one thing on his side last night: no scouting report on him. He will get lit up next start.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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