SEATTLE — Joey Devine got himself into a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the eighth inning of Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Then Luis Valbuena flied out to end the threat, and Devine ended his season with yet another scoreless inning. Over the season's final two months, Devine was about as good as a pitcher could be.
He didn't allow an earned run in 24 outings after being activated from the disabled list Aug. 2. His season ERA of 0.59 was the lowest in major league history for a pitcher with a minimum of 40 innings.
Opponents hit .150 against him this season, second-lowest in Oakland history to Jim Roland's .134 mark in 1970.
But because he missed two months to injury, his accomplishments may not register with American League Rookie of the Year voters.
He did make a strong case that he can be the team's 2009 closer, though Brad Ziegler and Huston Street (if he isn't traded) will have a say in that battle.
"He's got a great arm, great slider," A's manager Bob Geren said. "What a season he had. He's a special pitcher."
Devine, who pitched 452/3 innings in 2008, was acquired from Atlanta along with pitcher Jamie Richmond last the winter for outfielder Mark Kotsay.
Asked about getting a shot to close, Devine said he'd be happy filling any role next season. And he was slightly awed when told the pitcher with the second-best single-season ERA in history was A's Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley (0.61 in 1990).
"That's an honor to be mentioned with his name," Devine said. "I tell you, I'd like to meet him one day and shake his hand."
Goal in sight
Jack Cust led the team with 33 home runs and 77 RBI, proving last season's 26-homer performance in his first season with the A's wasn't a fluke.
But his 197 strikeouts were the fourth most in major league history and an American League record.
He has a plan to hopefully reduce his strikeouts. He's been seeing Dr. Bill Harrison, an eye doctor based in Laguna Beach who's helped major league hitters such as George Brett and Jason Giambi in the past.
"I think that's going to be huge," Cust said. "I see the ball pretty well, but my depth perception is not real good."
Cust has paid two visits to Harrison since the All-Star break, and he's learned that he sometimes sees things lower than they actually are, an obvious detriment to anyone who hits baseballs for a living.
The A's will send a large contingent of young players to the Arizona Fall League — the premier offseason developmental league. Pitchers Andrew Bailey, Andrew Carignan, Jeff Gray and Jared Lansford will play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, as will second baseman Adrian Cardenas, first baseman Sean Doolittle and catcher Josh Donaldson. "... The A's averaged 4.01 runs per game, their lowest mark since the 1979 club scored 3.76 runs a game.
— Joe Stiglich