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[9/11/2013] Yakult Swallows: Wladimir Balentien ties NPB single-season home run record with fifty-five

by on Sep.12, 2013 @ 1:30 am, under NPB

Wladimir Balentien tied the NPB single-season home run record with his fifty-fifth home run of the year on Wednesday night.

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Top Seven Single-Season Home Run Totals

Player JPN Player ENG Team HR Year Games
バレンティン Balentien, Wladimir Yakult 55 2013 122/144
王貞治 Oh, Sadaharu Yomiuri 55 1964 140/140
ローズ Rhodes, Tuffy Kintetsu 55 2001 135/140
カブレラ Cabrera, Alex Seibu 55 2002 135/140
バース Bass, Randy Hanshin 54 1985 128/130
野村克也 Nomura, Katsuya Nankai 52 1963 150/150
落合博満 Ochiai, Hiromitsu Lotte 52 1985 130/130

From Asahi Shimbun 9/11/2013

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Sports Hochi has posted a number of comments on the tie-breaking home run:

Balentien: I am happy that I was not only able to hit the home run at Jingu, but also hit the home run to right field where the Yakult fans are. I was able to take an outside pitch the other way and hit it for distance. I am greatly honored to tie the record and also relieved.

Sadaharu Oh: He was hitting them out at an amazing rate so it was only a matter of time. That is some accomplishment. Good job. He is hitting what he should. He has power and the ability to make adjustments. You cannot hit home runs on power alone. I am looking foward to seeing just how far he can go.

He also said: I do not think there will be problems like pitchers avoiding him. It will be about how pitchers handle Balentien. About how far this record will go with everyone doing their best.

Tuffy Rhodes: I hope the rest of the season goes well. Going for a new record can be really appealing for spectators and players. I wish him the best of luck.

Alex Cabrera: I have known about him for some time. He has skill and I think he is a worthy player to break the record. Unlike my run, he still has a lot of games to play and I think pitchers will make mistakes. If he capitalizes on those, he should be able to break the record.

Source: Sports Hochi 9/11/2013, Sports Hochi 9/11/2013

Hiroshima Carp Kan Otake on giving up home run fifty-five: I pitched thinking I could get him out. It was disappointing, I am disappointed. ... He was the better player.

Source: Sponichi 9/11/2013

According to Sponichi, the very first home run Balentien ever hit was a grand slam at the age of twelve.

Source: Sponichi 9/11/2013

On a side note, Balentien set a new record for home runs at one stadium during one season with thirty-three at Jingu on Tuesday and extended it to thirty-four tonight.  The previous record of thirty-two was set by Sadaharu Oh at Korakuen Stadium in 1964.

Source: Sanspo 9/11/2013

Sponichi has posted portions of a post-game interview with Balentien.

How are you feeling right now.

It took a while to get here, but I was able [to tie the record] with over twenty games left in the season.

What were you thinking about during the at bat?

I was waiting for a good pitch to hit and the result was good. I was not expecting a fastball, so I was a little surprised, but I was able to get the bat out with a compact swing.

You did not look happy.

I was happy and I felt like I did it, but winning is the most important thing. It is not good to smile in a game your team is losing.

You tied Oh's record.

Oh is the original record-holder. I am extremely happy to tie a home run hitter I respect.

How did you feel when the fans cheered for you?

I can not begin to express how happy that made me. I was surprised when Hiroshima fans clapped their hands for me when I took my position in left on defense. I appreciate that.

Do you feel confident about hitting number fifty-six.

Of course.

Source: Sponichi 9/11/2013

Daily Sports has also posted portions of the interview:

How do you feel?

I feel great.  It took a while to get here.  I managed to hit it out to right where all the Yakult fans are.  I could not be happier with number fifty-five.

On looking back at the at bat.

That at bat, I just wanted to make contact with a pitch in the strike zone.  I was surprised when I saw the fastball, but was still able to swing the bat well while keeping things compact.

Anything you would like to say?

My family.  My mother is in Japan.  She will be at tomorrow's game.  Maybe I will be able to break the record in front of her.

You thoughts on Oh.

I consider Oh the world's number one home run record holder.  I am very happy to tie a home run hitter that I really respect.

Your received a nice round of applause from Hiroshima fans.

After I hit the home run and made my way over to left on defense, the Hiroshima fans stood and congratulated me.  I was surprised by that.  I really appreciate the gesture.

What meaning down the home run have for you?

Hitting home runs is my style.  Getting that decisive hit, I think that is the appeal of a home run hitter.

You did not seem very happy at first when you tied the record.

The team was down 6-0.  I may have been happy, but the most important thing in baseball is winning.  I did not think it would be good to smile in a game we were losing.

Source: Daily Sports 9/11/2013

His at bats on Wednesday night:

1st Plate Appearance vs Kan Otake
1st inning, runner on second, two out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
●1 Fastball 141km/h ball 1 0 2
>2 Shuto 140km/h G6 1 0 3
         

2nd Plate Appearance vs Kan Otake
3rd inning, runner on first, two out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
<1 Slider 133km/h ball 1 0 2
<2 Slider 131km/h G6 1 0 3
         

3rd Plate Appearance vs Kan Otake
6th inning, none on, two out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
▲1 Curve 107km/h ball (in dirt) 1 0 2
<2 Slider 134km/h strike looking 1 1 2
●3 Fastball 147km/h HR8/9 1 1 2
         

4th Plate Appearance vs Ryuji Yokoyama
8th inning, none on, two out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
<1 Slider 136km/h ball 1 0 2
●2 Fastball 144km/h ball 2 0 2
▲3 Curve -km/h ball 3 0 2
<4 Slider 135km/h BB 4 0 2
         

Pitch data courtesy Yahoo Japan.