Balentien moves closer to Japan’s home run record
TOKYO (AP) — Former major leaguer Wladimir Balentien hit his 52nd home run of the season on Friday to move within three of Japanese baseball’s season record.
Balentien’s Yakult Swallows have 30 games remaining in the regular season for him to equal the record of 55 set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964 and matched by ex-major leaguers Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Alex Cabrera in 2002.
Balentien’s solo homer in the bottom of the fourth inning at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo helped the Swallows beat the Yokohama DeNa BayStars 8-2.
Balentien, who was born in Curacao, played for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds before signing with the Swallows in 2011. He hit 31 homers in each of his first two seasons in Japan.
The 29-year-old Balentien missed the first 12 games of the season due to a leg injury he picked up while playing for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.
Both Rhodes and Cabrera saw an increase in walks as they attempted to break Oh’s record.
Randy Bass hit 54 homers for the Hanshin Tigers in 1985 but was intentionally walked in the last game of the season by the pitcher on the Yomiuri Giants, then managed by Oh.