Red Sox affiliates swept at Fenway

Bynum helps Chiefs take nightcap after B-Mets win opener

Seth Bynum is hitting .328 (19-for-58) in 15 games in August. (Kevin Littlefield/MiLB.com)

By Mike Scandura / Special to MLB.com | August 20, 2011 5:45 PM

BOSTON -- Take away a broken left thumb that sidelined Syracuse Chiefs shortstop Seth Bynum for almost eight weeks and who knows what his statistics might look like at this stage of the season.

Bynum extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games on Saturday as Syracuse edged the Pawtucket Red Sox, 3-1, in an International League game that was the back end of the annual Futures at Fenway doubleheader.

Against Kyle Weiland, Bynum was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. That he lit up a prospect like Weiland made his performance all the more impressive.

"Weiland has some good stuff," Bynum said. "He throws hard. He's got a great sinker and a great slider.

"We're just thankful we got a couple of runs off him. He's had a great year. Getting any runs off him is good."

Bynum has been so good during his streak that he's hitting at a .447 (17-for-38) clip. As a result, he's raised his average to a respectable .274.

"I think [the streak] has been more because of an adjustment than anything," Bynum said. "It was one of those things where I wasn't seeing the ball out of the pitcher's hand. So I tried to adjust my stance a little bit and see the ball a little longer. It's made a huge difference in my swing.

"I opened it up a little bit and put my head on the pitch a little more instead of looking out of one eye. I'm seeing [pitches] with both eyes now, so it's a big difference."

Portland's Alex Hassan almost made a "big difference" in the Futures at Fenway opener, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the eighth that tied the Eastern League game against the Binghamton Mets at 2-2.

The B-Mets prevailed, 6-4, in 11 innings.

Hassan, rated by Baseball America as the Eastern Leaguer with the best knowledge of the strike zone, essentially put in another day at the office.

"He's a guy who shows a lot of potential," Sea Dogs manager Kevin Boles said of Hassan, who comes from nearby Milton, Mass. "This is a guy who sort of came out of nowhere. He was a fourth outfielder last year at Salem. Now he's showing that he knows how to work his at-bats.

"He has an advanced knowledge of the strike zone for a kid at this level. He's improved defensively. He has versatility in the outfield. He has a lot to offer. Considering all the players [Boston's promoted], he might be the next one to go."

Hassan, who upped his average to .302 and his OPS to nearly .900, played a key role in the 10th without taking the bat off his shoulder. With Mitch Dening on second and one out, Binghamton manager Wally Backman opted to have Rhiner Cruz issue an intentional walk. The move paid off when Cruz retired the next two Sea Dogs, setting the stage for a four-run 11th inning.

Boles summed up Backman's move in one word: Respect.

"That was a quality at-bat for him," Boles said. "It's a respect factor. He's been known throughout our league that he's one of the top hitters in the league. Just look at how he grinds out his ABs. He's a guy that has a presence about him."

Hassan, for his part, waxed philosophical about Backman's decision instead of gnashing his teeth in frustration.

"It was a pretty obvious play ... a man on second and one out," he said. "If it was anybody in the lineup, it really would have been a good play to walk him there. I wasn't surprised. It was a play that set up the double play with one out."

Since Hassan grew up in the heart of Red Sox Nation, belting a home run -- one that landed on the television platform in center field -- had special meaning.

"I certainly have had those thoughts [of homering at Fenway] in my head," he said. "Since I was a little kid, I've been thinking about playing here someday.

"It was 2-0 at the time and I hit a two-run homer. It was pretty cool to get us back in the game because we hadn't done too much offensively to that point. It was an exciting home run."

Mike Scandura is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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