Wladimir Balentien Slugging ‘Em Deep in Japan
A player who didn’t get mentioned in yesterday’s run-down of hot Nippon Professional Baseball (“NPB”) hitters because he’s missed about a dozen games this year, former Cincinnati Red and Seattle Mariner Wladimir Balentien reportedly hit three home runs today for the Yakult Swallows in a game against the Yokohama Bay Stars. The first two blasts left the stadium, and security guards warned passersby to watch out for low-flying objects when Wladimir came up to bat in the 8th inning.
This is the fourth time in his two-plus year NPB career that Balentien has hit three HRs in a game, which puts him in a seven-way tie for third most three-homer games in NPB history. Only Ralph Bryant (8 times) and Sadaharu Oh (5 times) have done it more. [You’ll have to scroll down the link to find Bryant’s NPB stats.] Balentien also joins Cecil Fielder on August 13, 1989 and Leo Gomez on May 17, 2000 as the only players to have hit two balls entirely out of the stadium in one NPB game.
Balentien has now hit eight HRs in 15 games this season, but still trails Tony Blanco, who hit his 14th HR of the young season in the same game (Blanco’s 27th game of the season), for the Central League lead. This is the reason why NPB teams pay the big bucks to bring in foreign hitters — to slug the long ball.