Dan Straily would understandably like to be back in the Oakland rotation, but while working on refining his fastball command, it's fun being part of another winning eam in the A's family.
Straily allowed three hits over seven shutout innings on Saturday night as Triple-A Sacramento took down Las Vegas, 5-2, for its fourth straight win.
After going 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA in seven outings with the A's to open the season, Straily was sent to Triple-A to rediscover command of his power pitch. In Sacramento, he's made strides in each of his three outings. After allowing six runs over five innings on May 13, the 25-year-old right-hander rebounded to go seven frames and yield one run on two hits his last time out.
He was even better on Saturday at Cashman Field. Straily (2-0) settled down after working around traffic in the first and second innings, retiring 11 straight from the end of the second through the beginning of the sixth.
"I'm just really working on trying to command the fastball," he said. "There were times when I had better command of it than others, so it's just trying to find that sort of consistency. It gets better, and that's the thing. That's what I'm focused on."
On two occasions, Straily faced multiple baserunners and stranded all of them. Despite issuing three walks for the second consecutive outing, he's getting closer to feeling like his old self when it comes to the fastball.
"You're going to feel [good command] when you let go of the baseball," he said. "There were times tonight where that was going on, so I was trying to repeat that every single time. That's effectively what it takes. It's a feeling, and it's probably the same as hitters just absolutely getting a baseball. You know when you get it. It's the same thing with pitching. You know when you're there and when you're not.
"Tonight was a good outing, but I wasn't happy with getting ahead of hitters. I have to get better. There's always things to work on. Nitpicking is what I'm doing right now, but that's my job. That's how I'm going to get better is finding the little things in my game to make better start to start."
Working with River Cats pitching coach Rick Rodriguez, Straily has made mechanical adjustments based on video from a breakout 2012 campaign that spanned Double-A and Triple-A and eventually sent him to the big leagues. Pitching with the lessened pressure of the Pacific Coast League, the 2009 24th-round Draft pick hasn't changed his mental approach.
"You treat this like any other game," said Straily, who struck out seven. "There's no difference in the way you attack hitters, the way you pitch. There's no difference between here and the big leagues. That approach, in my mind, I'm still there. I'm just down here pitching right now. That's where I'm at and that's where I'm trying to get back to attacking the strike zone and putting the pressure on the hitters."
The River Cats gave Straily the lead in the fourth, when Daric Barton singled home Stephen Vogt with the game's first run. An inning later, Andy Parrino knocked an RBI base hit to score Alden Carrithers. Sacramento went on to its 13th win in 15 games.
"It's just the culture we have over here," Straily said of playing with another winner at a different level in the Oakland system. "Everyone comes out here and does their job and wins ballgames. That's at every level. I'm fortunate that every single team I've played on with the A's organization has gone to the playoffs, outside of my very first short-season. Every full season I've had has been on a winning team in the playoffs. it's something you get used to. You get used to winning. It's contagious just as much as losing is."
Las Vegas starter Joel Carreno (1-1) gave up two runs -- one earned -- on eight hits while striking out seven and walking two in six innings.