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A's, Rangers hoping for win to end season

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There are undoubtedly some who would argue that there is nothing more meaningless than Game 162 between two teams who aren't playing for a future in the postseason.

They obviously have not met a fan on Fan Appreciation Day.

Plus, it's Blue Bell Ice Cream Sunday. In Texas, that's a close second in importance to Texas Independence Day, particularly in light of the creamery's near-death experience.

For the purest of fans of America's pastime, the sole focus of attention will be on Oakland right-hander Daniel Mengden (2-2) and Texas lefty Cole Hamels (11-5), who meet on Sunday in their teams' season finale in 2017.

Mengden is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Sept. 5. Opponents are hitting just .194 in four starts.

He is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two career starts against Texas, both last season.

At Nashville this season, Mengden was 2-4 with a 4.17 ERA in nine starts. Over his first 20 career starts, Mengden was 4-11. The 11 losses are the second most in Oakland history over his first 20 career games. Mike Morgan was 2-13.

Oakland starters have allowed one earned run or fewer in nine of the last 15 games and are 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA over that span. On Saturday, young right-hander Daniel Gossett took a beating, giving up four runs over 12/3 innings.

"We've talked about this with a few of the guys. It's going to be the consistency that sets them apart and enables them to stay" in the big leagues, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

If the A's had a little more time, they might have caught Texas in the American League West Division standings. As it stands, Oakland will finish last after having been in sole possession of fifth in the West every day dating to May 30.

Oakland, however, is finishing the season on the upswing, despite a banged-up roster. Outfielder Matt Joyce likely won't play on Sunday after straining a hamstring in Saturday's 8-4 loss, and Marcus Semien is still bothered by a sore wrist.

"We're barely making it to the wire," Melvin said.

Still, the A's have won nine of their last 13 games and will finish September as a winning month, breaking a string of 10 consecutive losing months. Their 16 wins are the most since going 17-9 in June of 2014.

Then there is Texas, which is limping to the finish line after flirting with the AL's second wild-card berth as recently as 10 days ago. The Rangers need to win to avoid its third-lowest winning percentage in the last 14 years.

Hamels is slated to make his 24th start of the season.

He will finish the season with the second-fewest innings of his career, behind only his rookie season in 2006. He is 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA in his last three starts.

In six career starts against the A's, Hamels has gone 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA, including a loss in his only start against them this season. Hamels surrendered six runs on nine hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings on Aug. 26 in Oakland.

Texas slugger Joey Gallo enters with something more than Fan Appreciation Day to appreciate. He has something to gain.

With 41 homers, he is one back of Oakland's Khris Davis after smacking two on Saturday. Prior to that, he had two home runs since Sept. 1.

Said Texas manager Jeff Banister: "Forty-one is pretty incredible. It's a culmination of a year for a player that came into camp with a mission to make a team ... prove to everybody he is a major league player.

"He started a little slow in spring training, started the season playing catch up and once he got locked he was pretty special for us. Fun to watch every time he went out there."

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