Dan Straily has proved capable of pitching at a high caliber in the Major Leagues. But doing so on a consistent basis has been problematic for the A's right-hander.
"I know some of the struggles he's been going through, and I know the pitcher he can be," said A's catcher Derek Norris, who recently hit his way out of a slump. "We've seen it in flashes, but we just haven't seen it consecutively throughout the span of a month or whatever it is you want to talk about. It's just coming in with that mentality every time, knowing this is my inning, not theirs. This is my at-bat, not theirs."
Tuesday's matchup against the Pirates will provide Straily with the opportunity to demonstrate his abilities with greater regularity when he makes his second outing since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento. Oakland's decision to option Straily was primarily because the team's schedule afforded it the ability to work with just a four-man rotation.
Still, mimicking his previous start, when he allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts to three walks Thursday against the Cubs, will allow him to better solidify himself in the eyes of A's manager Bob Melvin, who has taken note of Pittsburgh's hurlers.
"In the National League, it's a little bit different in how you build your roster, but pitching," Melvin said, "their pitching numbers are terrific, not only their starters but their relievers. They play a lot of close games; they win a lot of close games. So pitching can compensate for a lot of some deficiencies. It really is the young pitching that's probably the similarity with us."
Indeed, pitching stole the show in Monday's series opener, when the A's won, 2-1, behind Bartolo Colon's seven innings of one-run ball to earn his 12th victory before the All-Star break. Pirates starter Jeff Locke dueled admirably, allowing two runs in seven innings to take the tough loss.
Opposite Straily will be Gerrit Cole, whose first Major League loss came against Philadelphia in his previous outing and fifth Major League start after he allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Pirates: Walker still out of lineup, but avoids MRI exam
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker received treatment Monday afternoon after exiting Saturday's game against the Cubs with discomfort in his right side.
Walker said Sunday he had an MRI exam scheduled for Monday, but a team spokesman later said he did not need one.
Walker got a "heat and treat" before Monday's game, with Brandon Inge getting the start at second base.
Manager Clint Hurdle did not indicate any kind of plan moving forward if Walker were to land on the disabled list.
Inge can play second, and Josh Harrison, who has had three different stints with the Bucs this season, has played mostly second base for Triple-A Indianapolis. Jordy Mercer played there when Walker dislocated his finger in early May, and he has since taken over for Clint Barmes as the full-time shortstop.
"I think we're way in front of ourselves; I'll deal with it one day at a time," Hurdle said. "The answer today might not be the answer tomorrow."
Walker has a .244/.347/.384 slash line this season, playing in 72 games. He has six home runs and 26 RBIs.
Athletics: Green makes Major League debut
The Grant Green era officially began Monday, when the A's brought their former first-round Draft pick to Pittsburgh to play second base and bat eighth in their series opener against the Pirates. He finished the day hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts.
To make room on the roster for Green, the A's designated Adam Rosales for assignment.
This has been four years in the making for Green, drafted out of college as a shortstop in 2009 before embarking on a somewhat lengthy journey to the Majors, playing six different positions while his employers debated the best fit. He has finally found a home at second.
"I feel really comfortable there," Green said before Monday's game. "It's kind of just second nature now. Being able to play there pretty much every day the last couple of weeks has really helped."
• The Pirates have yet to win against the A's in 10 tries. Monday marked just Oakland's second trip to Pittsburgh. The Pirates are 11-4 in Interleague Play, while the A's are 12-4.
• At the plate, A's pitchers are 2-for-17 with two runs, one RBI, one walk and eight strikeouts after going a combined 2-for-54 over the previous three seasons.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.