It'd be pretty hard to put together two consecutive days that were any more completely opposite than Travis Shaw's games Wednesday and Thursday.
Boston's corner infielder went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk Wednesday in Double-A Portland's 5-4 loss to New Hampshire. It was his third time striking out thrice in one game this month and continued a difficult May, during which he was batting .140 (7-for-50) with 16 strikeouts in 13 games.
But as far as Shaw was concerned, that was Wednesday, and Wednesday ended with the game's final out.
"For me, it's pretty simple," he said. "You can't let days carry over. When I leave the park, I just drop whatever happened there behind me and move onto the next game. That's all you can do."
With that in mind, Shaw made a lot more contact Thursday night.
The No. 20 Red Sox prospect went 4-for-5 with a homer, two doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored in Portland's 15-4 trouncing of New Hampshire.
The effort was Shaw's first four-hit performance since last June 15 for Class A Advanced Salem and his first four-RBI game since July 17 at the same level. In just one game, his average jumped from .227 to .248, his slugging percentage from .352 to .406 and his OPS from .715 to .783.
The 23-year-old got the Sea Dogs' fireworks started when he led off the second with a double to right field and scored the team's first run on a fielding error by Fisher Cats left fielder Adam Loewen. His two-run homer highlighted a four-run third inning, and he added an RBI double in a three-run fourth, after which Portland held an early 9-3 lead.
Shaw, who added another RBI single in the sixth, did institute some lessons from his previous struggles into what would end up being easily his best offensive performance of the 2013 season.
"I've generally tried to keep my approach the same, but today I was trying to be a little more aggressive up there," said the Sea Dogs cleanup hitter. "Just trying to get some good swings early in the count and just attack the fastball early because the deeper you get into counts, that's when the strikeouts happen.
"When you have a plan and can stick to it and produce with it, that always feels good."
There were some small signs that a breakout night like Thursday's was coming. Shaw hit his first homer of the season on May 7 and followed that up with another roundtripper two days later. He even tripled for the first time last Sunday. In all, six of his 16 extra-base hits this season have come in his last nine games.
Then again, perhaps the lack of early power was to be expected. The left-handed slugger didn't hit his first home run for Salem last year until May 9 before finishing with 16 over 99 games for Boston's Carolina League affiliate.
"I haven't been too worried about the home runs so far," he said. "The weather's been pretty cold up here in Portland to start the year, and plus, I didn't hit a home run in April at all last year either. I knew once the weather started to heat up again, the power would come back again."
Following Thursday's offensive onslaught, Shaw hopes he'll finally find sustained success with the bat at the Double-A level after batting .227 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 31 Eastern League games following a callup last season.
"Everybody goes through an adjustment period at this level," he said. "That's what they say -- this is the biggest jump in the Minors from High-A to Double-A. So I feel like I went through that adjustment last year. Now I'm starting new, and hopefully, that adjustment period's over now and I can relax and perform like I know I can."
As the final score showed, the first baseman wasn't the only Sea Dog to put on a display Thursday. Batting behind Shaw in the fifth spot, Michael Almanzar went 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and a career-high five RBIs. Top Red Sox prospect and Portland's No. 2 hitter Xander Bogaerts was 1-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and an RBI, while Tony Thomas was 3-for-6 with a double, three runs and an RBI from the No. 3 spot.
"Our middle part of the lineup can be really dangerous," Shaw said. "Hitting with guys like Bogaerts and Almanzar around you is tremendous. Once someone starts getting on, it starts to spread, and the hitting can be definitely contagious in a lineup like ours."