Balentien breaks Japan's home run record - NBC Sports

Balentien breaks Japan's home run record
Yakult Swallows' Wladimir Balentien reacts after hitting his 56th home run off Hanshin Tiger's Daiki Enokida to break the Japan's season record in the first inning of their regular season baseball game at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013. Behind Balentien is Tigers catcher Takeshi Hidaka. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
September 15, 2013, 11:23 am

TOKYO (AP) Former major leaguer Wladimir Balentien hit his 56th and 57th home runs on Sunday, breaking the Japanese single-season record set by legendary slugger Sadaharu Oh 49 years ago.

Balentien hit the record-breaking three-run homer in the first inning of Sunday's game, sending the ball over the left-field wall at Tokyo's Jingu Stadium to give his Yakult Swallows an early lead over the Hanshin Tigers. He then added a solo shot in the third for No. 57 to help the Swallows to a 9-0 win.

Oh set the mark of 55 in 1964.

Balentien's record comes in a season which has seen attempts to reform the game to make it more exciting. In June, Japanese baseball officials acknowledged that they introduced a new ball this season without notifying players. The new ball has resulted in a dramatic increase in home runs.

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