A.J. Puk, Sheldon Neuse shine despite Athletics' loss vs. Giants

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Puk, Neuse shine as A's fall in Bay Bridge Series opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Bay Bridge Series opener on Tuesday didn’t fall in the Athletics’ favor, but two promising players continued to contribute at the plate and on the mound.

Pitcher A.J. Puk and infielder Sheldon Neuse made the most of their opportunities during the 8-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park, which saw the A’s take on a formidable, familiar foe with one of the best records in baseball.

Manager Mark Kotsay told reporters after the loss that he was impressed with San Francisco ace Carlos Rodón, who topped out at 98.5 mph on Tuesday night and struck out nine. But Kotsay was also impressed with Puk and Neuse, who both made an impact during the game despite the final score.

With the A’s trailing 2-0 after two innings, Neuse recorded his second hit of the game in the third inning with an RBI single off of Rodón that scored Nick Allen.

Neuse finished the night 2-for-4 and was the only A’s batter to get more than one hit, while Seth Brown recorded the game's other RBI when he scored Cristian Pache with a double in the seventh.

Kotsay believes Neuse is becoming more comfortable at the top of the lineup in spite of some trouble he had on the field Tuesday.

“Sheldon did a great job, a couple of nice at-bats,” Kotsay told reporters. “A couple of stolen bases, really playing well. I think we saw that in his first go-around here in glimpses, and now we’re getting to see it consistently. So that’s good.”

Neuse was first acquired by the A’s as a top prospect midway through 2017 and was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2021 season. He tore it up in the minor leagues for Oakland but didn’t stick in LA. Now, he’s back in the A’s organization after being claimed on waivers in March.

Neuse has made the most of his opportunity to start as the A’s deal with COVID, suspensions and injuries, hitting .327/.397/.404 so far this season.

And after an up-and-down spring, Puk is garnering attention as well. He threw two scoreless, hitless frames in relief on Tuesday and has a 1.23 ERA in five appearances this season. He started the bottom of the fifth inning and replaced A’s starter Daulton Jefferies (1-3), who gave up five earned runs on four hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts.

Puk is averaging almost one strikeout per inning with 7 K’s across 7.1 innings so far in 2022.

“A.J. lined well,” Kotsay said of Puk’s performance in Tuesday’s loss. “[The Giants’ order] at the top is predominantly left-handed. I saw a good opportunity for A.J. to come into the game and match up against those guys, and he did a nice job for two innings.”

While Oakland originally anticipated Puk to eventually slide into the backend of its starting rotation when he was drafted in 2016, the 27-year-old is nicely adapting to a bullpen role this season after battling injuries in years past.

RELATED: How Pache made young fan's day after touching Twitter exchange

“Happy to see that he’s continuing to progress in the right direction, and he’s commanding the baseball and throwing a lot of strikes,” Kotsay said of Puk.

As the score shows, the A’s first game in the Bay Bridge Series wasn’t perfect. But with players fighting for a chance to make the most of their opportunities, the wins are sure to follow.