TOKYO — Former Mariner Wladimir Balentien hit his 56th and 57th home runs Sunday, breaking the Japanese 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 that has seen attempts to reform the game to make it more exciting. In June, Japanese baseball officials acknowledged 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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BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox honored New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera before his final scheduled game at Fenway Park.
The Boston Cello Quartet played Rivera’s theme song, “Enter Sandman.” Then the Red Sox played highlights from one of the low points in Rivera’s career, his blown save in Game 4 of the 2004 AL Championship Series against Boston.
Rivera, who is retiring after the season, was called out to the diamond, where the entire Red Sox team waited for him. Boston slugger David Ortiz gave him a hug.
• Todd Helton, 40, will retire at the end of the season after spending 17 years with the Colorado Rockies and setting franchise records in nearly every offensive category.