16 September 2013

Curacao-born baseball star excels in Japanese league

Breaking News:

Curacao’s Wladimir Balentien Breaks Japan’s Home Run Record

Balentien slugs 55th homer, ties Japan’s single-season record

Wladimir Balentien, an outfielder with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, tied the Nippon Professional Baseball single-season home run mark of 55 on Sept. 11 with a shot into the right-field stands at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo in the sixth inning.

Wladimir Balentien hits his record-tying 55th home run of the season in the sixth inning against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo on Sept. 11. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)The 29-year-old from the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao tied the record in front of his home fans off Hiroshima Toya Carp pitcher Kan Otake.

Balentien achieved the feat in his team’s 122nd game of the season, the fastest among all of the four players who hold the mark.

The other three are Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants; Tuffy Rhodes of the now-defunct Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes; and Alex Cabrera of the Seibu Lions. The three accomplished the feat in 1964, 2001 and 2002, respectively.

Both Rhodes and Cabrera ran into controversy as they were repeatedly walked after they tied the record and were apparently not given the chance to break the legendary Oh's record. The Swallows have 22 games remaining in the regular season.

Balentien is in his third year with the Swallows. In each of his first and second seasons, he hit 31 homers, becoming the home run king in both of the years.

This season, which started in late March, Balentien missed the start of the season from injuries to his left leg.

After playing on April 12 in his first game, he has homered on a remarkable pace of one homer every two games. In August, he hit 18 home runs, setting a record for the most home runs hit in a month.

Balentien played for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds before signing with the Swallows in 2011.

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