By Anthony Andro, The Sports Xchange
ARLINGTON, Texas — Oakland right-hander Daniel Mengden showed Sunday that the future could be bright for the A’s pitching in 2017.
Mengden (3-2) pitched seven shutout innings as the A’s blanked Texas 5-0 to close out the season.
Mengden, who was limited to 18 starts between Triple-A and the A’s because of injuries, carried a perfect game into the fifth inning before Adrian Beltre singled to center. Mengden allowed four singles in seven innings and set a season high with eight strikeouts while walking just one.
“I was getting ahead with the fastballs,” said Mengden, who threw 60 of his 91 pitches for strikes. “My changeup was good, sliders were good. I was just trying force early outs and get a couple of strikeouts there in the first couple innings, trying to work quick.”
Mengden finished the season strong like the A’s, who won 17 of their final 24 games. In his final four starts, Mengden was 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA. In three of those starts, he pitched at least seven scoreless innings.
Mengden’s strong finish wasn’t lost on manager Bob Melvin.
“That’s the best work we’ve seen from him,” Melvin said. “To come out of the pack, so to speak, like he did and perform as well as he did at a time when we were struggling a little bit in our rotation.
“Not only did he solidify it, make us a lot better certainly in the month of September, put himself right back up there in the pecking order going into next season. So I don’t have enough good things to say about him.
“It’s a credit to some hard work, working through some injuries, rehabbing hard and keeping the conviction that you can do it.”
Oakland gave Mengden all the runs he needed in the third inning when it used four consecutive hits to score three runs off Texas starter Cole Hamels (11-6).
Dustin Garneau got the hit parade started with a single and Marcus Semien followed with another single. Matt Chapman then doubled to left to put the A’s up 1-0.
Jed Lowrie followed with another double to left, this one scoring both Semien and Chapman to push the lead to 3-0.
Hamels pitched just three innings and was charged with three runs and five hits. He struck out five, including the next three batters after the Lowrie double.
Despite the short outing, Hamels ended the season feeling good about his pitching. He was trying to work on things Sunday after allowing six runs and six hits in three innings in his last start.
“For me, being able to throw pitches and being able to throw five pitches effectively in a game, and knowing how to make that adjustment in a very quick order, that’s something I was not always able to have this season,” Hamels said. “I really felt like I had all five pitches at least working at one point in this game. That’s really the comforting feeling knowing that I was at least able to get the feel for that.”
The A’s tacked on a run off reliever Yohander Mendez with an RBI single from Franklin Barreto in the sixth inning.
Khris Davis blasted a solo homer to left-center field in the eighth to give him a career-high 43 for the year. Blake Treinen pitched a perfect inning for his 16th save.
Davis had two of the 10 Oakland hits, and all nine starters had at least one. Texas, which finished with eight hits, avoided a shutout on a two-run single from Nomar Mazara in the eighth inning.
The Rangers were just 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six on base. A lot of that was because of Mengden’s pitching.
“I thought he did an exceptional job,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said of Mengden. “He got ahead. When major league catchers get ahead, it makes it challenging on major league hitters to get hits.”