Dull caps dazzling rookie campaign

Melvin says reliever's performance Saturday was highlight of A's win

Dull caps dazzling rookie campaign

SEATTLE -- A's second baseman Joey Wendle surely delivered the club's biggest hit in Saturday's wild affair that extinguished Seattle's postseason chances, but was it the biggest moment? Manager Bob Melvin believes Ryan Dull's doings trumped all.

Yes, the right-hander, pitching in his American League rookie-leading 70th game, yielded the tying run in the eighth inning, but he also left the bases loaded in a most impressive manner, giving way to Oakland's 10-inning, 9-8 victory.

"I had a conversation with Dull today," Melvin said Sunday morning, ahead of the A's season finale. "That, last night, I feel like he was instrumental in winning the game for us. He gave up a run, but he's in his 70th appearance, weighs about 50 pounds wet, and he's in an almost no-win situation."

After Dull offered up pinch-hitter Ben Gamel's two-out, game-tying single, Melvin instructed the pitcher to intentionally walk Robinson Cano, bringing Nelson Cruz to the plate with the bases loaded. Dull fired slider after slider and struck out the slugger to end the sequence, one that was all too fitting a way to cap his remarkable rookie season with the A's.

"I make him walk a guy, he's got the bases loaded, he's got nowhere to go, he's got this whole place roaring down on him with one of the best hitters in the game, and he got through it, with 30-plus pitches," Melvin said. "So, if ever there was a situation where he knows he can pitch in any situation, that was the one.

"And I thought that was the key out in the game, because with the momentum the way it was going, the crowd and everything, it was going to be very difficult for us to get out of the inning, and he was our best guy to get out of the inning, even in the conditions that he had to pitch in."

Dull, who turned 27 on Sunday, has dazzled in sticky situations all year long, holding opponents to a .086 average (6-for-70) with runners in scoring position, which is the lowest mark in the Majors. He also stranded the first 36 batters he inherited this season, a Major League record, and allowed just seven of 52 overall inherited runners to score for the third-best percentage in the AL.

Dull heads into the offseason with a 2.42 ERA and a tidy 0.87 WHIP.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.