With 31 games left on the schedule, the native of Curaçao knows that getting to 55 could become challenging as Nippon Professional Baseball is not known for playing fair when foreigners approach the record considered to be unrivaled.
"As (the record) nears, pitchers will be reluctant to throw strikes," said Balentien in a statement issued on the Swallows' Web site after the game, an 11-7 loss to the Chunichi Dragons. "I sense that, but I'm concentrating on hitting strikes."
Oh, the former first baseman and manager who is one of the most highly regarded sports figures in Japan, set the record in 1964 when he was with the Yomiuri Giants. Since then there has been a blatant effort on a number of occasions - notably in games involving Oh himself - to ensure that it remains intact.
The Hanshin Tigers' Randy Bass entered the last game of the 1985 season with 54 home runs. He was walked four times by the Yomiuri Giants, who were managed by Oh.
In 2001, Tuffy Rhodes, while playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, came into the final five games of the year with 55 home runs. The outfielder faced challenges similar to Bass in games against the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, a team also skippered by Oh.
"They didn't throw me any strikes," said Rhodes by email, referring to the games against Fukuoka. "I had to swing at two pitches (out of the strike zone) if I wanted to hit."
The following year, Alex Cabrera, then of the Seibu Lions, as well complained about a lack of pitches over the plate after his pursuit of the record also stalled at 55.
Speculation has started in Japan's tabloid media about whether Balentien will suffer a similar fate. The online Business Journal went as far as to suggest that the negative publicity from a repeat of unsportsmanlike behavior would endanger Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. (The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to announce the winning city on September 7.)
|Apr 23||Obama on his way to Japan|
|US President Barack Obama has left the United States for his first trip to Japan in about 3-and-a-half years. Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a summit meeting on Thursday. (NHK )|
|Apr 23||National school exams held|
|The education ministry conducted national academic achievement tests on Tuesday for all final-year students at primary and middle schools across the country. About 2.24 million students at about 30,000 schools took Japanese and mathematics exams. (The Japan News )|
|Apr 23||Japan, U.S. to defer broad trade accord|
|Japan and the United States are now seen deferring a broad trade agreement until after a summit meeting set for Thursday due to differences over key issues, informed sources said Tuesday. (Jiji Press )|
|Apr 23||Japan's bird flu virus has same gene type as S. Korea's|
|The virus strain that caused bird flu at a poultry farm in southwestern Japan has been confirmed to be genetically identical to the one found in South Korea, the National Institute of Animal Health said Tuesday. (Jiji Press )|
|Apr 22||Lost codes spark airport scramble on eve of Obama's arrival|
|Airport authorities in Tokyo launched a frantic scramble to change security pass codes, an official said Tuesday, the day before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives, after an airline employee dropped a memo containing the details. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 23||100,000 apply to participate in first public tours of parts of Imperial Palace|
|The Imperial Household Agency announced this week that it has received over 100,000 applications from individuals seeking to participate in the first ever public opening of parts of the Imperial Palace. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 23||79-year-old woman stabbed to death in Shizuoka home|
|Police in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, said Tuesday that a 79-year-old woman was stabbed to death at her home. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 22||Ex-judge installed camera in women's toilet at Ministry of Justice|
|A former judge from the Ministry of Justice is alleged to have installed a camera inside a women's toilet inside a ministry building in Kasumigaseki, people with knowledge of the matter announced on Monday, reports Sports Nippon (Apr. 22). (Tokyo Reporter )|
|Apr 22||Hunters kill bear after it attacks man in Niigata|
|Hunters shot and killed a bear on Monday after it attacked a man in Murakami, Niigata Prefecture. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Daughter arrested for killing 83-year-old mother with kettle|
|Police in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, said Monday they have arrested a 55-year-old woman for fatally beating her 83-year-old mother with a kettle at their home. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Justin Bieber 'in a happy place,' hits Tokyo with mom Pattie Mallette|
|Justin Bieber flies to Tokyo, Japan, with mom Pattie Mallette, leaving his legal woes, Drake Bell drama and the debate on the deportation petition behind. (inquisitr.com )|
|Apr 21||Man stabs ex-girlfriend, her parents in their home in Aichi|
|Police in Fuso, Aichi Prefecture, said Sunday they have arrested an unemployed 38-year-old man for attempted murder after he broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend and stabbed her and her parents. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Man jumps to death after fatally stabbing father|
|Police in Tokyo said that a 46-year-old man apparently jumped to his death after fatally stabbing his father at their condominium in Tokyo's Koto Ward on Sunday morning. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Matsushima gull feeding ban to protect pine trees|
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|Apr 20||Serial burglar suspected of over 100 thefts|
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