Sep 11th 2013, vs Hiroshima

September 11th, 2013

Hiroshima Carp logo cleanHiroshima Carp 6Tokyo Swallows Logo

Tokyo Swallows 2

Streak: Lost 2    Last 5: WLWLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

Wladimir Balentien became the fastest player in NPB history to hit 55 home runs in a season, reaching the tally in the team’s 122nd game. He is now tied with three other players (Sadaharu Oh, Tuffy Rhodes, and Alex Cabrerra) at 55 and is just one big swing from breaking a record that has stood since 1964.

W: Ohtake (8-9; 3.55 ERA)
L: Ishikawa (4-8; 3.73)

And what’s even more impressive is that he hasn’t played in all of those games. Number 55 arrived in his third at-bat of his 109th game of the 2013 campaign.

Maru (RF)1Yamada (2B)
Kikuchi (2B)2Ueda (CF)
Soyogi (SS)3Kawabata (3B)
Eldred (1B)4Balentien (LF)
Hirose (LF)5Yuichi (1B)
Akamatsu (CF)6Iihara (RF)
Ishihara (C)7Aikawa (C)
Uemoto (3B)8Morioka (SS)
Ohtake (P)9Ishikawa (P)

And that’s all you really need to know about this game. The Swallows got stomped once again. Ishikawa started and gave up six earned runs over five innings. The six runs came from seven hits (one homer) while mixing in two Ks, a wild pitch, and a single walk.

Fujita, Barnette, and Emura put together four scoreless innings of relief after Ishikawa got the hook.

Yamada and Morioka drew two walks apiece, and Yuichi had a pair of singles to improve on his impressive form since rejoining the top team.

But the story, once again, was Balentien. Adding a walk to his historic one-for-three night at the plate, Balentien now leads the league in many major batting categories. His slash of .340/.464/.820 is well ahead of the competition. He also leads the Central in runs scored (85), total bases (309), and walks (89). Yokohama’s Blanco still holds the lead in RBI, 123 to Balentien’s 117, and both Blanco and Murton are ahead in total hits, 146 to Coco’s 128, but there’s no denying that Tokyo’s cleanup hitter deserves MVP consideration despite playing for an underachieving team.

So when will Balentien break the record? He has four home games at Jingu to look forward to. Next up, Nomura leads Hiroshima against our own Tokuyama tomorrow night.

Balentien tied Oh's record with 22 games left to go in the regular season.

Balentien tied Oh’s record with 22 games left to go in the regular season.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini