ARLINGTON -- In a season that has the A's sitting 20 games under .500 with three weeks to play, the youth movement is in full swing, and the club is evaluating potential pieces that could fill up next year's roster.
A pair of rookie pitchers held encouraging auditions in Saturday night's 5-3 victory over the Rangers: left-hander Sean Nolin, who picked up his first Major League victory with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, and right-hander Ryan Dull, who held Texas off the board for two frames to extend his career-opening scoreless streak to eight innings.
"It's exciting," Nolin said. "It's something I've dreamt about since I was a young kid, wanting to pitch in the big leagues, and getting that first win is definitely something I've looked forward to."
"At this point in the year, I think that's what we're striving for, just some momentum and seeing new guys contributing that could be a part of it next year," catcher Josh Phegley said.
Nolin's first win was a long time coming. Acquired by the A's in the Josh Donaldson deal, the southpaw was out of commission during his first Spring Training with the club while recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery and didn't make his Oakland debut until Sept. 6, when he lost to the Mariners after allowing three runs in six innings.
On Saturday, his only mistake -- a 2-1 curveball Phegley deemed "pretty good" -- was hit for a home run by Mike Napoli to lead off the second. Nolin worked around four baserunners over his next three innings, spotting his fastball on the corners and effectively utilizing his slider and curveball, and he was nearly out of the sixth before surrendering a two-out double to Elvis Andrus.
That's when manager Bob Melvin called on lefty Drew Pomeranz, who got out of the frame unscathed.
"It's easy when you're cruising along," Melvin said. "It's when you have guys on base and you have to make a pitch that you find out about guys, so we found out a lot about [Nolin] today.
"I thought he was great. Based on the way we've been playing lately, the results we've been getting from the rotation for the most part, to be able to get a game like that against a tough lineup is big."
Dull, who began the season at Double-A Midland, relieved Pomeranz with one on and no outs in the seventh and struck out Delino DeShields, Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder to offset a one-out walk and strand two to maintain a four-run lead. He then worked a scoreless eighth.
"He looks really calm and like he's been there before, and I think that's what you like to see," Phegley said. "There's gonna be some adrenaline, some nerves, but you don't see it out of him. It doesn't matter who's in the box, he executes his pitches every time."
"He's a quiet guy," Nolin said, "but comes in there like a little pit bull and shuts the door."
Dull said he's taught himself to squash any nerves by simply stepping off the mound and taking a breath.
"Just to slow the game down a bit," he said. "This is great experience. It lets you see how your stuff plays against the best in the game right now."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.