Atkins basks in good debut

Atkins, the 25-year-old right-hander who was called up Tuesday with the unenviable task of facing the Texas Rangers' formidable lineup, said he received about 20 phone messages and texts after his quality start in the Orioles' 4-2 loss.

"Texas has a good lineup, but I didn't really try to focus on that too much," Atkins said. "I tried to focus on what I was trying to do and just push that to the back of my mind."

Atkins threw strikes and limited the Rangers to one run, an impressive outing for a minor league free agent who missed all spring with an oblique strain. He had pitched seven games in relief for the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and 2010 but had never made a big league start.

"It's an awesome feeling," Atkins said about his return to the majors after rebounding from injury. "It was the first time I had been hurt and it was probably the longest I had been on the DL, and so it was a little change of pace for me. It probably made me a better all-around player just having that experience."

Atkins held the Rangers scoreless for the first 52/3 innings Tuesday, the longest an Oriole making his debut has shut out an opponent since Chris Waters threw eight scoreless innings in August 2008.

"That was his first start in the big leagues, a tough spot, a tough place to pitch," Showalter said of Atkins. "We will take it as a real positive. I hope it turns out to be that. This guy is only 25 years old; he's younger than some of the guys that we have here that we are hoping are going to be long-term solutions."

Around the horn

Wednesday's game-time temperature was 100 degrees, the third straight game in Texas in which that has happened. The last time the Orioles played three straight games in 100-degree weather was July-August 2006 in Baltimore. … Luke Scott (shoulder strain) left the Orioles' clubhouse Wednesday afternoon to fly to Baltimore. He will have an MRA at 11:45 a.m. Friday. … Thursday's starter, Jake Arrieta, flew to Boston on Wednesday night ahead of the team. … Texas outfielder Endy Chavez was hit in the helmet by Guthrie's pickoff attempt in the second inning. He was motionless for a moment but stayed in the game. … Adam Jones remains in fourth out of five candidates for baseball's "Final Vote" to be added to the American League All-Star team. The winner will be announced Thursday.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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