Even though Sheldon Neuse had played in just three major-league games, something already was starting to weigh on him.
The A's infielder still was looking for his first big-league hit, beginning his career 0-for-9. Sunday's game certainly would be a great time for it, with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a scoreless game.
Neuse worked the count to 2-2 against Yankees right-hander Ryan Dull before slapping a two-run double down the right-field line to give Oakland the lead.
"It felt amazing to finally get it out of the way," Neuse told reporters in New York. "The only thing I could think of was, put one in play and score a couple of runs, and now I'm standing on second base at Yankee Stadium. I just took a deep breath, took it all in, and focused back up."
Neuse’s first big league hit ✅ pic.twitter.com/XVV9eT1oU5— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 1, 2019
While the Yankees came back to win the game, Neuse still was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief, admittedly nervous to get his batting average above .000.
"Absolutely," Neuse acknowledged. "Every at-bat. Hopefully now I can just kind of calm down and play the game."
"That's huge for him," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He went through a little bit of a drought to get his first hit, but to be able to get it in that spot makes you feel good, especially here [at Yankee Stadium] in a big spot in the game. It gives us a lead. So my guess is he'll relax a little bit more at the plate."
Neuse, 24, is ranked as the A's No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline. After a down year last season in Triple-A, he put up huge numbers this year in Las Vegas, slashing .317/.389/.550 with 27 home runs and 102 RBI in 126 games.
"I think I panicked early on [last season] and it just kind of snowballed on me," Neuse explained. "A big thing going into this offseason was just trying to be quieter [in my batting stance] at the plate. So far, it's paid off."
Neuse earned his first career call-up last Thursday, allowing him to reunite with former Las Vegas teammates Seth Brown and A.J. Puk.
"They're excited," Neuse said. "I was excited for them. I think I might've cried a little bit when Seth came up, just seeing the emotions on him. ... Coming in and seeing him here after playing with him all year, it's totally different."
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Neuse has a real opportunity to earn consistent playing time down the stretch. But for now, he's just happy to have his first hit out of the way.
"I got the baseball, and it's in my backpack and it's going home with me," he said.