Chris Shaw has always been well regarded for his power, but it was his contact ability that propelled him to a breakout afternoon Wednesday.
San Francisco's second-ranked prospect went 5-for-6 with a home run, three RBIs and three runs scored as Triple-A Sacramento scored 11 runs in the first four innings en route to an 18-4 win over visiting Reno. Shaw had never gotten five hits in a professional game, although he racked up four hits last June 29 in El Paso. His four singles also set a career high.
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"The day, in general, was kind of weird -- not just myself, but we scored 18 runs and it was just a wild day," Shaw said. "I don't know that I thought it was strange that my hits were all singles, but more than anything I was surprised I got hits in four straight at-bats."
Shaw started the day with a single to right field off D-backs No. 7 prospect Taylor Clarke in the first inning and scored two batters later when fifth-ranked Austin Slater raced for a triple. Shaw hit another single to the right side in the following frame but was subsequently forced out at second base.
With the River Cats holding an 8-1 lead in the fourth, Shaw again singled to right against Clarke and scored when Mac Williamson followed with a homer. Left-hander Jared Miller relieved Clarke shortly thereafter, but that didn't stop Shaw, who singled to left in the fifth.
The 6-foot-3, 226-pound outfielder's first chance at his fifth knock came against veteran Minor League first baseman Cody Decker in the seventh. He dribbled the first pitch he saw right back to the mound.
"I've never seen 60 mph off the mound before, especially after a guy throwing 94 all day," Shaw said. "It's a huge adjustment, and people might say, 'How aren't you hitting that?' It's just different."
Shaw came to the plate again the next inning with two on against another veteran position player, infielder Daniel Robertson. This time, the 24-year-old Boston College product didn't miss, taking a 1-0 pitch over the fence in right-center.
Video: Sacramento's Shaw homers for fifth hit of game
"My first at-bat against the position player, I got too aggressive, tried to make something happen and rolled over," Shaw said. "The second time I tried to just touch the ball, get the barrel to it and take an easy swing. The wind was blowing out, and I knew if I got in the air, I'd have a chance. So I went up there just like playing in the backyard and got the barrel to the baseball."
A 2015 first-round pick of the Giants, Shaw entered the game with five hits in Sacramento's first six outings, snapping a three-game slump in which he went 1-for-11 with seven strikeouts. Despite those small-sample struggles, Shaw wasn't worried about his relatively slow start.
"That's just how it goes sometimes, you get lucky and find some grass where they're not playing," Shaw said. "I've just kept the same approach all year, looking for a good pitch to hit each at-bat and just happened to get lucky.
"I say it to myself as a hitter, it's the law of averages. As tough as it might get sometimes, that next at-bat could be the bust-out at-bat. I'm really confident in that ability, and I just knew going into today that statistically the probability was on my side."
Sacramento finished the game with 19 hits, led by Shaw and Slater, who went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs. Chase d'Arnaud contributed two homers and six RBIs on a three-hit day, while Alen Hanson, Ryder Jones and Hector Sanchez added two hits and one double apiece.
Casey Kelly (1-0) struck out eight over five one-run innings to lower his ERA to 1.00 on the season.
Clarke allowed 11 runs -- seven earned -- on 10 hits and two walks while striking out three over 3 1/3 innings.