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[9/15/2013] Yakult Swallows: Wladimir Balentien sets new NPB record with fifty-six, blasts fifty-seven as well

by on Sep.15, 2013 @ 10:31 pm, under NPB

Wladimir Balentien broke the NPB single-season record tonight with his fifty-sixth home run of the season.  He also cranked out number fifty-seven in his next trip to the plate to set a new Asia single-single record.  The previous record of fifty-six was set by Seung-Yeop Lee in 2003.

Source: Sponichi 9/15/2013

Comments from various people in baseball.

Sadaharu Oh:

He overwhelming broke the record and is hitting them out at an amazing pace of about one home run every two games.  I think he has figured out how to be a success long-ball hitter.  Just like the fans, I am looking forward to seeing just how many he can hit.

Alex Cabrera:

Records are meant to broken so it was a matter of time. I think he is player worthy of setting a new record.

Tuffy Rhodes:

I would like to congratulate him for setting a new record. A hitter must make sure he is swinging the bat properly to break the home run record. Everything must have been working properly for Balentien to break the record.

Source: Sports Hochi 9/15/2013, Sponichi 9/15/2013

The home run ball will be sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Tokyo.

Source: Sponichi 9/15/2013

Hanshin fan Sho Naruoka caught the home run.  He traded the ball for an autographed bat, uniform, and cleats.

Source: Nikkan Sports 9/15/2013

Yutaka Wada was planning to let Ryo Watanabe pitch to Balentien in the 8th inning of Saturday's game with runners on first and second and two out, but that changed as soon as the runners moved up a base on a wild pitch.  Needless to say, the slugger was disappointed in the intentional (but not intentional) walk, as were the fans.

Source: Daily Sports 9/15/2013, Daily Sports 9/15/2013

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Balentien's post-game hero interview (taken directly from the actual interview):

You finally broke the record tonight, how do you feel?

First of all, I need to thank my fans.  I need to thank all the Hanshin fan too to support me and respect every AB.  I'm so happy for that.  I don't know.  I'm so happy right now.  I can't even believe what's going on.

How did number fifty-six feel?

I mean it was a line drive, but I hit it so good.  I hit it on the right spot so I knew it was going out.  It was a great feeling.  I think I can't feel that ever again in my life.

All eyes were on each pitch of your at bats.  You went homerless in three games.  Did you feel any pressure?

A little bit, you know, because I know the days going by.  I want to give this present to my fans.  I want to do it here in Jingu.  So I was trying too hard, but I'm happy I can get it done today in front of my fans.

It was nice that you were able to hit it in front of your mother.

I'm so happy, you know.  This moment, you only live one time.  So I'm so happy to have the opportunity to get my mom here and she will be able to see this happen.  I mean, I think this is the best present I can give to her forever.

Your name is now in the record books.  How do you feel about that?

I don't know, it's like a dream, you know.  I think I'm still sleeping.  I can't even believe this.  I mean, it's something I never dreamed about, but I'm so happy it's going on and all I can say is "Thanks God to give me this bless."

You also hit number fifty-seven tonight.  The question will be how many more you will hit.  Thoughts?

I don't know.  I mean, I'll just keep up there, keep fighting.  Try to win ball game.  Whatever God has for me, I'll take it, so uh probably...  I can't even say a number, but I hope I can go a little bit more farther.

All yakyu fans have been keeping their eye on you.  Is there anything you would like to tell all the fans?

I want to thank all y'alls.  I mean, without your support nothing of this can happen.  I know you always pull for me.  I'm so happy to play for the Swallows and to have you guys, have the great fans ever.  So uh, this is a present for you guys too.  I love you guys.

Is there something you would like to tell the fans in Japanese?

Asatte, gambarimasu! (I will do my best the day after tomorrow!)

===

The Central League has posted portions of Balentien's post-game press conference.  Daily Sports has also posted portions of the press conference.  I have mixed in both below (Daily Sports stuff will be underlined).

First, congratulations on setting a Japanese new record.

Thank you very much.

How are you feeling right now?

I feel so relieved right now.  I feel so emotional.  I feel so great.  Just did this, it's something unbelievable.  It's a history that nobody was able to do it for forty-nine years so uh, for me to do it, uh, I can't even explain...what I'm feeling right now.

You mentioned wanted to hit the home run at Jingu and you managed to accomplish it.

Yeah, I mean I always try to put it out there.  Put the motivation out there.  So I know we have six game here, uh, I was uh, three away, so uh, I just tried to throw it out there saying I would try to do it here so I just put a little more on myself.  Uh, because it would be great for me to give it to the fans.  It's a lot of history for me already, in this park so uh, I just feel I wanna share this special moment too, with the fans.

You broke Sadaharu Oh's record.

I mean, it's a special moment.  I'm so happy right now, I feel so great.  I mean, he's the all-time Japanese home run king but with a lot of respect to him, for the great power hitter he is, to be able to tie him and pass, it's something very special for me.

What went through your mind as you stepped in for your first at bat?

First thing in my mind, I was trying to get a hit, to get the run in.  I mean, I've been trying too much to hit a home run the last couple of days so uh, today, my first AB, I say I'm just gonna relax, I wanna get the RBI, I wanna to put my team on the board and just look for a pitch I can drive and I get it and I was able to hit it out at the same time.

Your waited three pitches and hit the home run on the fourth pitch.  How did it feel?

I can't even say, I can't even explain.  I mean, my body.  It was hot, I was sweating and I just, I feel so cold at the same time.  It was a great feeling.  I mean, I think, one of the better, better ever in my life.

The moment it went over the fence, all the fans, including Hanshin fans, went crazy.  How did that feel?

It's a special moment to, you know, even get the opposite team cheering for you.  Uh, even their team was losing but they showed they happy.  They just want a new generation, they want a new home run king, single season home run king and I did it.  And uh, all I can say, I mean, it's a special moment.  And I appreciate it a lot from the Hanshin fans too.

Your mother also seems happy.

Everyone stood up to cheer for me, but my mom is so small I could not see her.  When I came back to the dugout, I found her and it made me feel good to see her happy.

Did your mother say anything to you today?

Yeah, she said, "God bless you and today is the day."  She gonna put the Curacao flag dress on, bring me the good luck so I can get it done today.

Is there anything you would like to say to your mother?

First of all, I have to be so happy that she have the opportunity...  God gave us the opportunity to be here in this situation...  To have her with me maybe in one of my own important life, I wanna share this with her.  She always support me.  She always was there for me.  I got to tell her, to bring me to this world...  Cause I mean...  She's special for me and I think I'm special for her too, so I love her a lot.  So I think...  That's all I can say, I love her too much.

Would your mother like to say something?

I am the happiest mother in the world.  I am grateful for having been given such a wonderful son.

Did you feel any pressure?

After I hit fifty-five, I felt like it was chasing me.  I know that the situation and I knew it was my job.  I was able to keep myself motivated by staying relaxed.  I tried not to think about it and told myself it was going to happen, soon or later.

How many would you like to ultimately hit?

I do not have a number.  I will keep on doing things for the team.  Baseball is a nine player sport.  With that in mind, I want to treat each at bat as if it will be my last.  The number will be whatever I end up with when the season ends.

You have a shot at a triple crown.

I am five or six RBIs away.  If I have the chance.  I am happy to have the opportunity, but whenever I aim for something, I try too hard.  My numbers drop.  I do not want to think about it.  I want to keep focusing like I have during each at bat.

Is there anything you would like to say to the fans?

Thank you to all the fans that supported me.  I would not have been able to accomplish this without support from my teammates.  They were all behind me when things were bad.  The manager, the coaches...  Thank you to the wonderful organization.  To Masayuki Okumura.  He gave the opportunity to play in Japan.  Thank you to the Swallows' fans for providing me with support during good times and bad times.  I could not do this alone.  I was able to break the record with everyone's support.  I want to share this moment with everyone.

Source: Daily Sports 9/16/2013, CentralLeagueMovie 1, 2, 3, 4

===

1st Plate Appearance vs Daiki Enokida
1st inning, runner on second, one out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
●1 Fastball 136km/h strike looking 0 1 1
<2 Slider 117km/h ball 1 1 1
●3 Fastball 139km/h ball 2 1 1
●4 Fastball 137km/h HR 7/8 2 1 1
         

2nd Plate Appearance vs Daiki Enokida
3rd inning, none on, one out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
●1 Fastball 139km/h ball 1 0 1
★2 Cutter 128km/h ball 2 0 1
★3 Cutter 128km/h ball (in dirt) 3 0 1
<4 Slider 120km/h HR7 3 0 1
         

3rd Plate Appearance vs Ryo Watanabe
5th inning, none on, no out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
<1 Slider 131km/h ball 1 0 0
▼2 Sinker 133km/h strike swinging 1 1 0
●3 Fastball 140km/h ball 2 1 0
<4 Slider 134km/h ball 3 1 0
<5 Slider 134km/h foul 3 2 0
▼6 Sinker 134km/h Ks 3 3 1
         

4th Plate Appearance vs Ryo Watanabe
6th inning, runners on first and second, two out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
<1 Slider 130km/h strike swinging 0 1 2
●2 Fastball 133km/h ball 1 1 2
▼3 Sinker 136km/h foul 1 2 2
<4 Slider 133km/h ball 2 2 2
<5 Slider 133km/h ball 3 2 2
<6 Slider 135km/h BB 4 2 2
         

5th Plate Appearance vs Kazuya Tsutsui
8th inning, none on, no out

Loc Pitch Type Velocity Result B S O
●1 Fastball 141km/h strike looking 0 1 0
●2 Fastball 141km/h ball (in dirt) 1 1 0
★3 Change 130km/h F8 1 1 1
         

Pitch data courtesy Yahoo Japan.