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.)
|Mar 12||Japan observes 3rd anniversary of March 2011 quake|
|Memorials were held across Japan on Tuesday to observe the 3rd anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami disasters of March 11th, 2011. (NHK )|
|Mar 12||Population decline continues in disaster-hit areas|
|The populations of the 3 Japanese prefectures hardest hit by the 2011 disaster continued to decline. (NHK )|
|Mar 12||Japan to send mission to Malaysia over missing jet|
|The Japanese government decided on Tuesday to send a mission to Malaysia to cooperate in the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet under Japan's law on the dispatch of emergency missions abroad. (Jiji Press )|
|Mar 11||Three years after Fukushima, Japan still struggles to cope|
|About 38 miles inland from the plant lies the commercial city of Koriyama, where some of the smallest children barely know what it is like to play outside - fear of radiation has kept them indoors for much of their short lives. (telegraph.co.uk )|
|Mar 11||Contaminated water still troubles Japan nuke plant|
|The radioactive water that has accumulated at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant remains the biggest problem hampering the cleanup process three years after the disaster. (sfgate.com )|
|Mar 12||TV Tokyo airs Alien: Resurrection instead of tsunami anniversary commemorations|
|At 2:46pm every Japanese television channel paused to remember the dead, cancelling their regularly scheduled programming to show the prayers of Japanese people around the country. That is, every channel except one. One decided to air Alien: Resurrection instead. (ibtimes.co.uk )|
|Mar 12||Man stabbed in possible dispute over son's girlfriend|
|Kochi prefectural police are investigating an incident involving a man who sustained severe injuries after being stabbed several times in the abdomen. Police said they believe the attack is linked to a dispute the victim was having with another man over their children dating. (Japan Today )|
|Mar 11||3 cats found mutilated to death in Ehime park|
|Police in Niihama, Ehime Prefecture, are investigating the mutilation deaths of three cats whose bodies were left in a park. Two were found dead in February, and the third was found on Saturday. (Japan Today )|
|Mar 10||Tokyo marks 69th anniversary of US air raid|
|People in Tokyo are observing the 69th anniversary of the devastating US air raid on the Japanese capital during World War Two. (NHK )|
|Mar 10||Japan Airlines 787 makes emergency landing in Honolulu|
|A Japan Airlines- operated Boeing 787 made an emergency landing at Honolulu Airport after oil pressure in its right engine dropped, the Japanese carrier said. (cbsnews.com )|
|Mar 09||Thousands protest in Japan ahead of Fukushima anniversary|
|Banging on drums and waving "Sayonara nukes" signs, thousands of people rallied in a Tokyo park and marched to Parliament on Sunday to demand an end to nuclear power ahead of the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. (scmp.com )|
|Mar 08||Japanese girl bitten 100 times in New Zealand dog attack|
|New Zealand doctors said Friday that a 7-year-old Japanese girl was bitten about 100 times during a dog mauling that has horrified many in the South Pacific nation. (USA Today )|
|Mar 08||Fewer than 40 pct of Tokyo residents, commuters prepared for quake|
|Fewer than 40 pct of residents and commuters in Tokyo take specific measures to prepare for a possible huge earthquake beneath the Japanese capital, despite high awareness on disaster prevention, a Metropolitan Police Department survey showed Friday. (Jiji Press )|
|Mar 08||Blizzard pummels northern Japan|
|A blizzard struck northern Japan on Friday with authorities warning of avalanches, high waves, strong winds and traffic disruption. (thehindu.com )|
|Mar 08||Japanese men do near the least housework|
|An international survey shows Japanese men fell into a group doing the least housework. (NHK )|