Balentein Slugging Swallows to Victory

Wladimir Balentien got off to a late start to the season as a result of injuries he suffered playing for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.  Now that he is healthy and bashing balls out of the park the Yakult Swallows have moved themselves from the basement of the Central Division with a six game winning streak.  Part of that six game winning streak was a sweep over the first place Yomiuri Giants.

After beating the Giants in the first game 4-2, Balentien drove in all four of the runs in the second game in the Swallows identical 4-2 win.  His big hit was a 3-run homer in the sixth, his fourth of the year.

In the third game to complete the sweep the Giants held a 1-0 lead going into the eighth.  They brought in Scott Mathieson, a fireballing Canadian to protect the lead.  Balentien took him deep for a 2-run homerun to give the Swallows a 2-1 win and a sweep over the Giants.

Balentien made it three straight homeruns in his first two at bats in the opening game the next day against the Yokahama Bay Stars, then hit his third homerun of the game in his fifth at bat, after a fly out and a walk intervened to end his homer streak.  The three homeruns gave the Swallows their sixth straight win 12-3.

Balentien is now hitting .333 with eight homeruns in his 15 games he has played.  During that time he has driven in 22.  The homerun leader in the Central League is Tony Blanco of the Bay Stars.  He hit his 14th homerun in his 27th game, but he will have to be more prolific if he expects to stay ahead of last year’s homerun champ.

With the six game winning streak the Swallows have moved to third place in the Central with a 13-14 record, five games behind the Giants.  It would not surprise me if some of those players are looking in the rear view mirror after they were ambushed by the Swallows in their three game series.

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