Aaron Baker welcomed this week's Eastern League All-Star break as an opportunity to get some relaxation worked into what's been a frustrating season at times.
And when regular season play returned Thursday, he really hit the ground running.
The Double-A Bowie first baseman homered twice and drove in six runs to power the Baysox past the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 10-1. The two homers broke a drought that dated back to his last long ball on April 16.
"I don't know," Baker said when asked about what accounted for the outburst. "I went to the beach during the All-Star break. ... Just getting back from the All-Star break, trying to get off to a good start. I guess I just wanted to make good solid contact."
The 25-year-old thought both pitches he connected on were sliders. He pulled both to right field.
The University of Oklahoma product began the season well enough, hitting .275/.341/.450 with three home runs in 20 games in April. But after lifting one out against Erie on April 16, he went the next 46 games without another.
"I hit a lot of balls well, some line-drive doubles in the gaps that just didn't get enough lift on them. Put a lot of good swings on a lot of good pitches, but haven't gotten the home run results, so it's nice to get a couple," he said. "Hopefully, I can keep the same approach from here on out."
Double-A has proved a tough environment for the 2009 11th-rounder. With Class A Advanced Frederick last season, he batted .266/.350/.549 with 22 homers, 18 doubles and 72 RBIs in 89 games.
After hitting a post-April swoon, though, his line fell to .248/.326/.376 before his two-homer romp. Now he's hitting .254/.336/.410 in 57 games.
"It's difficult, you always have to kind of remind yourself you're playing against the best of the best. There's a lot of guys here knocking on the door of the big leagues or have been there before," he said. "You're playing against really good ball players. The pitchers are more consistent than at the A-ball level. Their stuff is close to about the same, but they know what to do with their strengths, what they can do best. You have to stay within yourself."
After his trip to the beach and Thursday's effort, though, things might be picking back up for him.
"I'm just trying to make good, solid contact. I mean, my meals are switched up every single day, and on Sunday, I wear stirrups," he joked. "I just try to have fun. I actually don't really try to get into certain superstitions or all that stuff. I just want to go out and play baseball the way I know I can."
Bowie shortstop Josh Horton pitched in another couple RBIs and catcher Ronny Paulino reached safely five times, going 2-for-2 with three walks and two runs scored.