Each of the five times Boston Red Sox prospect Bryce Brentz came to the plate Thursday afternoon, he was either leading off an inning or coming to bat with a runner standing on first base.
These circumstances may sound inconsequential, but for a free-swinger like Brentz -- he might as well trademark the phrases "staying within myself" and "not trying to do too much" -- they are integral to his success.
"That way," he said. "They had to pitch to me."
That's why, Brentz believes, he went 5-for-5 with three doubles and scored a season-high four runs in the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs' 7-2 victory over the host Harrisburg Senators.
Does the Red Sox's No. 2 -- and baseball's No. 58 -- prospect feel like he's been pitched around for two months in 2012?
"I've noticed it," he admitted. "The situation dictates it, especially with a base open, and then my pitch selection goes down. My problem is going up there with a base open and trying to hit impossible pitches. I get greedy."
Watching rehabbing outfielder Ryan Kalish hit third could have only helped. Kalish, who doubled and walked in five plate appearances in his fourth Minor League game but first with the Sea Dogs, made an impression.
"This is just a pit stop for him, but it was a lot of fun watching his at-bats," Brentz said. "When he swings, he's not up there just to swing."
Batting fifth, Brentz followed suit. He averaged more than five pitches per plate appearance and took ball one in each. It was a recipe for sure success.
The right-handed hitting right fielder doubled to start the second inning, doubled with two outs in the third and singled to start the fifth against Senators starter Paul Demny. He then struck a two-out RBI single in the sixth and led off the ninth with a double.
In the process, he became the first Sea Dogs player to record two five-hit games in one season. He first accomplished the feat -- and set a career best -- when he went 5-for-5 with a two-bagger in a May 13 loss in Trenton. (Sticking to a routine in his very next game, he recorded three hits in his first three at-bats -- an eight at-bat hit streak that ended with a knock -- in a victory in Reading.)
"Well, this one is actually a lot better than the last one I had -- we won," he said. "To take the series makes it real sweet."
This was Portland's first series win in Harrisburg since 2007. After a terrible start, the Sea Dogs have now won seven of 10 to sneak out of last place in the Eastern League's Eastern Division.
Brentz, Boston's 2010 first-round draftee, also matched a franchise mark for collecting three doubles in one game. Former Red Sox and current Cubs prospect Anthony Rizzo last did so in an Aug. 3, 2010, game against Bowie.
Brentz, who was 4-for-21 (.190) at the plate over his previous seven games, is now batting .306 through 49 games overall, the highest his average has been since the season was two days old.
"I'm glad I'm starting to make the [mental] adjustments," he said. "Me and my hitting coach and have come a long way since April."
Demny (4-3), the Nationals' No. 18 prospect, yielded five runs on 12 hits and didn't come out for the sixth.
Sea Dogs counterpart Chris Balcom-Miller (3-4) also went five, giving up two runs on six hits. Reliever Marco Duarte earned a save with four two-hit, scoreless innings of relief.
Kalish, who played all nine innings in center field, also made an impression with his glove, grabbing out No. 27 up against the fence.