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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 4-2 win over Minnesota

Posted on 08 April 2016 by Luke Jones

Who stood out in the Orioles’ 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins to complete a three-game sweep on Thursday night?

In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the third game of the 2016 season.

1stUbaldo Jimenez didn’t look like he would complete seven strong innings early on, but he induced a 1-4-3 double play from Trevor Plouffe to escape a jam in the third inning and turned his outing around from there. The right-hander retired 14 of the final 16 hitters he faced, striking out eight over that stretch. Minnesota hitters were on his fastball early, but Jimenez mixed in his secondary pitches more effectively the second and third times through the order and his split-finger fastball was particularly sharp. Known for his occasional control issues, Jimenez didn’t walk a batter while striking out nine and scattering eight hits. His outing not only allowed the Orioles to remain within striking distance, but he saved a bullpen that had worked 11 innings over the first two games of the series.

2ndManny Machado was moved out of the leadoff spot for the Orioles on Thursday, but he still served as the catalyst for a lineup that was scuffling against Minnesota starter Phil Hughes for much of the evening. His home run to left with two outs in the bottom of the sixth reminded the rest of the order that a 2-0 deficit was far from insurmountable and the Orioles responded with three more runs over the next couple innings to surge ahead. The first-pitch homer came after Machado was locked in during his previous at-bat, a nine-pitch battle in the fourth that resulted in a line-drive single.

3rd Darren O’Day did have a two-run lead and has proven to be more than capable of handling the closer duties in the past, but he was very impressive in striking out the side to complete the 4-2 victory. The right-hander was also making his third appearance in four days, a heavy workload for this early stage of the season. O’Day recorded six strikeouts in three scoreless innings in the series.

HomeJoey Rickard continued his storybook start to the 2016 season with his first major league homer in the bottom of the eighth. The Rule 5 pick received a curtain call for his efforts as the crowd chanted his name repeatedly. … Jonathan Schoop knocked in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh with a single to center. … Dylan Bundy made his first major league appearance since Sept. 25, 2012 and pitched a scoreless eighth inning after he had warmed up at several other times during the series. … Caleb Joseph threw out two runners attempting to steal, one of them being Danny Santana right before Joe Mauer homered off Jimenez in the first inning. … After throwing only 22 pitches because of a rain delay on Opening Day, Chris Tillman returns to the hill on Friday where he’ll be opposed by Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer to begin a three-game set.

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 4-2 win over Minnesota

Posted on 07 April 2016 by Luke Jones

Who stood out in the Orioles’ 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night?

In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the second game of the 2016 season.

1stChris Davis homered at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time since Oct. 4, 2015, the game many assumed would be the slugger’s last in an Orioles uniform before he signed a seven-year, $161 million contract in January to remain in Baltimore. The 421-foot shot to center off Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson gave Baltimore the lead for good in the bottom of the third and was the Orioles’ first home run of the season. The first baseman made a good defensive play in the eighth, picking J.J. Hardy’s in-between hop on a throw and keeping his foot on the bag to record the out before tumbling over.

2ndYovani Gallardo allowed just one run and struck out four in five solid innings to win his Orioles debut. The only hits he allowed were a pair of doubles by talented Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, but Gallardo did walk three batters and induced only three grounders, which is fairly unusual for him. His velocity remains a concern as his fastball sat mostly between 87 and 88 miles per hour, but he mixed his pitches well, using his slider to strike out Byung Ho Park and Eduardo Escobar in the fourth. The 30-year-old retired seven of the final eight hitters he faced and threw 89 pitches, 52 for strikes.

3rdJoey Rickard continued to impress in his second major league game, going 2-for-3 and picking up the first RBI of his career with a sacrifice fly to left in the fourth inning. The Rule 5 pick is 4-for-7 with a double and a run scored in two games and is quickly becoming a fan favorite. Rickard also had two six-pitch at-bats on Wednesday, something manager Buck Showalter wants to see if the left fielder is to eventually become the club’s leadoff hitter.

HomeJonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters each collected RBI doubles to give the Orioles their other two runs on the night. … Zach Britton allowed a double and a walk, but the 2015 All-Star closer struck out the side to earn his first save, tying Eddie Watt for seventh on the club’s all-time saves list with 74. … Not known for his patience at the plate, Hardy drew a walk for the second straight game and saw a total of 23 pitches in four trips to the plate. The Orioles have drawn 11 walks in their first two games of the season. … Pedro Alvarez is the only regular in the lineup yet to record a hit this season, but the former Pittsburgh slugger walked twice in Wednesday’s win. … Adam Jones appeared to show some discomfort after striking out swinging in the bottom of the eighth, but Showalter said he was unaware of any issue when asked following the game. … Thursday’s announced attendance was 12,622, the Orioles’ lowest mark since April 22, 2013 if you don’t count the empty-ballpark game from last year. … Ubaldo Jimenez goes to the hill Thursday night with the Orioles in search of a three-game sweep after going 0-7 against Minnesota in 2015. He’ll be opposed by Twins right-hander Phil Hughes.

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Gausman, Matusz set to begin rehab assignments

Posted on 06 April 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Gausman is ready for the next step in his recovery from right shoulder tendinitis that’s sidelined him since the middle of the March.

After completing a 30-pitch simulated game in Sarasota on Wednesday, the 25-year-old is traveling to Baltimore and will make a rehab start lasting three to four innings for Double-A Bowie on Saturday. He would then make a start at Single-A Frederick next week with the goal of being activated on April 19.

Left-handed reliever Brian Matusz (left intercostal strain) is even closer to making his return and is expected to pitch one inning each on Thursday and Friday at Bowie. Should those outings go well, Matusz would be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday since his stint was backdated to March 25.

Pitching prospect Hunter Harvey (groin strain) threw 40 pitches in Sarasota and will pitch in a sim game on Saturday. Harvey will begin his season at Frederick when he’s ready to go.

Chris Tillman will start the series opener against Tampa Bay on Friday after the Opening Day starter threw only 22 pitches because of Monday’s rain delay. Mike Wright will make his first start on Saturday, but the Baltimore skipper has not yet revealed his No. 5 starter, who would pitch on Sunday.

Showalter didn’t try to make too much of the boos from some fans when outfielder Hyun Soo Kim was introduced on Opening Day after a turbulent spring that included him refusing a minor-league assignment.

“They’re waiting to embrace him,” said Showalter, who quipped that fans may have been calling Kim’s middle name. “So far, he hasn’t had the opportunity yet to give them anything. Hopefully, that will be there at some point. It didn’t seem to affect him. We’ll see.”

Below are Wednesday night’s starting lineups:

MINNESOTA
2B Brian Dozier
1B Joe Mauer
RF Miguel Sano
3B Trevor Plouffe
LF Eddie Rosario
DH Byung Ho Park
SS Eduardo Escobar
C Kurt Suzuki
CF Byron Buxton

SP Kyle Gibson (2015 stats: 11-11, 3.84 ERA)

BALTIMORE
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
RF Mark Trumbo
C Matt Wieters
DH Pedro Alvarez
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Jonathan Schoop
LF Joey Rickard

SP Yovani Gallardo (2015 stats: 13-11, 3.42 ERA)

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 4 Minnesota Twins

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 4 Minnesota Twins

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Minnesota – This trip had me looking only a handful of parks I hadn’t visited. I never saw a game at the Metrodome so this would be my first MLB game in the Twin Cities. Target Field is universally hailed as a great place and I had very high expectations and this place simply delivered in every way. There’s something cosmic about the giant neon state of Minnesota throwback logo in center field. The concourses are cozy and packed with great local food. The Twins have embraced every hero in their legacy chain from Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew straight through Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbac. The downtown is now bustling and this is another team that’s in the midst of a resurgence in the standings. Highly encourage you to take in Target Field on a summer night.

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Maryland SS Schmit drafted by Twins in 26th round

Posted on 07 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Twins selected 40 total – 19 pitchers and 21 position players in 2014 Draft

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Twins announced today that they have selected 30 additional players on the final day of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft to bring their three-day total to 40 players. In all, the Twins drafted 19 pitchers, including 16 collegiate arms, and 21 position players in the three days of the draft. Of the 21 position players, six are catchers, 10 are infielders and five are outfielders.

Among the players the Twins selected was University of Maryland SS Blake Schmit. Schmit was selected in the 26th round (770th overall), joining Jake Stinnett (2nd round-Chicago Cubs) as Terps to be drafted. Schmit bats right-handed and is hitting .312 with a home run and 17 doubles for the Terrapins.

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Orioles split squad doubleheader rained out Monday

Posted on 17 March 2014 by WNST Staff

TONIGHT’S ORIOLES-TWINS GAME AT ED SMITH STADIUM CANCELLED DUE TO RAIN

            Tonight’s Orioles-Twins game at Ed Smith Stadium has been cancelled due to rain. There will be no makeup date. Fans holding paid tickets for tonight’s game may exchange their tickets for any of the remaining Spring Training games at Ed Smith Stadium, subject to availability, or obtain a refund. (The day’s earlier game against the Philadelphia Philles was also rained out.)

Additionally, the St. Patrick’s Day green and black caps the Orioles were to wear tonight will be worn in Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Following the game, the caps will be autographed and auctioned online at www.orioles.com/auction, to benefit the animal hospitals at Mote Marine Laboratory.

The Sarasota-based hospitals treat sick and injured dolphins, small whales and sea turtles with the goal of returning them to the wild. Fans can learn more about Mote’s animal hospitals at the OriolesREACH community booth on the main concourse during the game.

On non-game days, tickets may be exchanged at the stadium box office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the day of a game, beginning two hours prior to game time, tickets may be exchanged for that game only at the ticket windows. Fans who would like to exchange their tickets for a prime game will be required to pay the difference in cost.

To obtain a refund for paid tickets, fans should send the original game tickets via certified mail to:

 

Baltimore Orioles

March 17 Spring Training Rainout

Ed Smith Stadium

2700 12th Street

Sarasota, FL 34237

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Chen lands on 15-day DL with strained right oblique

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Luke Jones

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The news wasn’t good for Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen on Monday as the left-hander is on his way to the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told multiple reporters the injury suffered in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Twins is indeed an oblique injury that will sideline him for the foreseeable future. Manager Buck Showalter had expressed hope following Sunday’s game that it was just a cramp.

Chen was seen holding his right side after recording the final out of the fifth inning and was replaced by right-hander Tommy Hunter in the sixth inning. The Taiwanese southpaw pitched five shutout innings and was lifted after throwing just 73 pitches.

He was re-evaluated on Monday, which was the first of two days off for the Orioles this week. The injury leaves Baltimore with just three healthy starters in their current rotation and will force Showalter and Duquette to once again look to the minor leagues for starter help.

Oblique strains typically lead to longer DL stints than the 15-day minimum and can flare up easily if a pitcher tries to return too early.

Already dealing with starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez on the 15-day DL due to a blister on his right thumb, the Orioles can make it to Saturday before needing an additional starter behind Chris Tillman, Jason Hammel, and Freddy Garcia. Right-handed pitcher Jair Jurrjens started for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday — allowing five earned runs in seven innings of work — and would be working on regular rest for a potential promotion to make Saturday’s start in Baltimore.

The club could also turn to right-hander Steve Johnson, who would be eligible to be recalled prior to the end of the normal 10-day waiting period if he were to take Chen’s spot because of an injury. Johnson was optioned back to Norfolk following his rough start in Minnesota on Saturday night.

The Orioles hope to see Gonzalez make a rehab start later this week, but a scheduled bullpen session at Target Field this weekend was pushed back to give his blister more time to heal. Gonzalez is eligible to return from the DL next Sunday, but it’s looking more like he’ll need at least an extra day or two after that before rejoining the Baltimore rotation and that’s assuming there are no more setbacks.

In addition to Chen’s oblique strain, Norfolk right-hander Jake Arrieta was scratched from Sunday’s start due to right shoulder tenderness. According to Showalter, Arrieta’s shoulder has bothered him for a few days and it remains unclear whether he’ll simply be pushed back a few days or skipped in the Tides rotation altogether. Concern doesn’t appear to be too high at this point, but shoulder soreness for a pitcher is clearly something a club never wants to hear.

Showalter told reporters prior to Sunday’s game that the club was considering recalling Arrieta instead of left-hander Mike Belfiore for extra bullpen help after starters pitched just 13 innings in Minnesota, but Arrieta’s tender shoulder changed that plan.

Belfiore was optioned back to Norfolk on Monday afternoon, with no corresponding move expected to be made until Tuesday.

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Orioles’ success mirrors their anchor in ninth inning

Posted on 11 May 2013 by Luke Jones

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There was a time not long ago when many doubted that Jim Johnson held the right mindset or ability for the Orioles’ closer role.

The 29-year-old right-hander certainly doesn’t fit the description of most ninth-inning men. Not only does Johnson strike out fewer batters than the typical closer but he fanned fewer hitters per nine innings (5.4) than any regular member of the Baltimore bullpen last season.

But that didn’t stop Johnson from collecting a club-record and major league-leading 51 saves and being named to his first All-Star team in 2012 as the Orioles advanced to the postseason for the first time in 15 years. His heavy sinker that induces ground ball after ground ball has allowed him to convert 35 consecutive save opportunities, breaking Randy Myers’ franchise record in Friday night’s remarkable 9-6 comeback victory in 10 innings.

In many ways, Johnson’s success mirrors the Orioles’ prosperity as it was late in the 2011 season when he took over the closer role for good after mixed results in brief stints prior to that. The club finished that season going 14-8 in what’s now viewed as a precursor to the remarkable 2012 season. Since Sept. 7, 2011, Johnson’s 72 saves are the most in baseball and the Orioles have gone 129-91. Many have struggled to explain the success both have found, but that’s just fine with Johnson.

“I think it is more about knowing what kind of pitcher you are,” Johnson said. “I do it differently than other people. When I first started, I tried to be something I wasn’t. I tried to be a typical closer and strike guys out all the time and that is not who I am. Then, I reverted back to pitching how I normally do and good results followed.”

Johnson’s journey to become arguably the best closer in baseball hasn’t been a smooth one as it was only in 2010 when his career appeared to be at a crossroads. Struggling out of the gate with a 6.52 ERA in 10 appearances, Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk before it was discovered that he was dealing with right elbow inflammation.

It was during a rehabilitation stint in August of that season when Johnson first met new Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who had traveled to Bowie to see how the reliever was progressing. In one of his favorite stories to tell about his closer, Showalter explained how he saw Johnson give up a home run on a changeup that was clocked at 88 miles per hour.

Upon seeing his new manager when getting back to the dugout, Johnson asked Showalter what he thought. The manager quipped that he needed to work on that pitch, fully understanding the right-hander was working on his array of pitches during the outing against Double-A hitters who were otherwise overmatched. Even then as Johnson was just working his way back to form, Showalter knew he had something special to work with out of the bullpen.

“It was the first time I saw him,” Showalter said. “But that’s what [the good ones] look like.”

For years, the debate continued whether Johnson would be better suited to start or relieve as even Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer believed his four-pitch repertoire — the sinker, a nasty curveball, an underrated changeup, and a four-seam fastball — would make him a successful starter. Coming up through the Orioles system as a starter, Johnson was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year as well as the Carolina League pitcher of the year for the 2005 season.

Showalter can’t help but draw comparisons between Johnson and future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, whom he managed at the end of his tenure as Yankees manager. Rivera followed a similar progression in beginning his career as a starter before moving to middle relief and eventually closing out victories for a winning club. Before briefly reconsidering Johnson’s role two years ago, Showalter decided the ninth inning would be the perfect place for him.

“Jimmy’s been through all those same processes,” said Showalter in comparing him to Rivera. “I thought it was the best for him to stay healthy with a lot of the things that go on with pitchers. The biggest thing is his ability as a pitcher. He has multiple ways to get you out.”

The Orioles saw their faith in Johnson rewarded in 2012 as he saved 51 of 54 opportunities to become the first Baltimore closer since George Sherrill to make the All-Star team. He began his current streak of 35 straight save conversions on July 30 of last season, but it was his postseason failure that stung the most for Orioles fans after Johnson had been so outstanding all year.

In Game 1 of the American League Division Series, Johnson entered in the ninth inning with the game tied 2-2 before allowing the go-ahead home run to Yankees catcher Russell Martin and five runs total in the inning as the Orioles fell 7-2. Game 3 brought an even more painful result as Johnson came on in the ninth inning with the Orioles holding a 2-1 lead at Yankee Stadium and gave up the game-tying home run to Raul Ibanez. Baltimore lost the game in extra innings as it was the only time since Aug. 8, 2011 that the Orioles have lost a game in which they held a lead at the end of seven innings.

Johnson took full responsibility for the postseason struggles by waiting at his locker for reporters after both losses. Instead of dwelling on those failures and allowing the disappointment to linger into the 2013 season, the closer has converted all 14 save opportunities and entered Saturday tied for the major-league lead in saves.

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Orioles remaining optimistic despite Roberts’ trip to DL

Posted on 05 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Opening their 60th season in Baltimore on Friday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins, the Orioles were hoping for the best for second baseman Brian Roberts as he underwent an MRI earlier in the morning.

Manager Buck Showalter remained optimistic in his pre-game press conference, but the Orioles summoned infielder Yamaico Navarro from Triple-A Norfolk with Roberts heading to the 15-day disabled list. Ryan Flaherty will start in Roberts’ place at second base in the home opener and newcomer Alexi Casilla will also be counted on to fill in for the 35-year-old infielder.

It was learned after the presser that Roberts ruptured a tendon in the back of his knee, an injury that will likely keep him out for two to four weeks. The good news is the injury won’t require surgery and it’s a tendon typically used for ACL repairs, making it inconsequential in the long run.

“Just because things are delayed doesn’t mean they’re denied,” said Showalter about Roberts’ injury that will likely send him to the DL. “It’s something that, regardless of what [the result] says, it will heal and he will play for us again.”

Right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman will be activated from the DL to make Saturday’s start, so the Orioles could have elected to wait a day with Roberts and go with a short bench instead while avoiding the need to make an additional move. Moving Roberts to the DL now means another one is coming on Saturday.

Tillman declared himself ready to go and will not have any limitations as he makes his first start of the year after dealing with abdominal soreness.

Right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta will make the start in the home opener for the third straight season, but Showalter downplayed Arrieta’s strong spring that resulted in him winning the final spot in the rotation and the exceptional start he made last year against the Twins to begin the season.

“Minnesota answers those questions. His next start, those guys will answer those questions,” Showalter said. “It’s something that you like seeing him do well [in the spring] and he did well at it, but just because he had a good start last Opening Day at home doesn’t mean it’s going to carry over.”

Here are Friday’s lineups…

MINNESOTA
CF Aaron Hicks
DH Joe Mauer
LF Josh Willingham
1B Dustin Morneau
C Ryan Doumit
3B Trevor Plouffe
RF Chris Parmalee
2B Brian Dozier
SS Eduardo Escobar

SP Liam Hendriks (2012 stats: 1-8, 5.59 ERA)

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Ryan Flaherty
DH Nolan Reimold

SP Jake Arrieta (2012 stats: 3-9, 6.20 ERA)

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Duquette hoping lightning can strike same place twice

Posted on 03 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

You are aware it isn’t true, right?

There is a well known idiom that says “lightning never strikes the same place twice.” The origins of the idiom are not fully known, although it has been attributed to writers like P.H. Myers and Mary Roberts Rinehart over the years.

Lightning can not only strike the same place twice, but could strike the same location an infinite number of times. There are no geographical laws for where lightning can strike, although we can certainly accept the notion that a lightning strike is more likely to hit a tall building than a sidewalk.

If for some reason you’re still REALLY interested in understanding this, here’s a little tutorial Accuweather put together to explain the phenomenon…

I went with this lede because I had to admit it was close to my initial response upon hearing the Baltimore Orioles believed the acquisition of 2B Alexi Casilla had solved their problems at second base.

In fact, I believe my quote was something like “does Dan Duquette really think lightning can strike the same place twice?”

If the Birds’ Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations had been in the room, he could have looked back at me calmly and said “well…it can.”

After claiming Casilla off waivers from the Minnesota Twins, Duquette declared second base to be addressed. He told team-owned entity MASN, “I think we have enough people on our roster to man the position.”

The O’s second year man Ryan Flaherty at the position with Brian Roberts also perhaps a candidate to retain to the field after hip surgery. Veteran Robert Andino is also an option if the Orioles choose to tender him an offer. Omar Quintanilla is unlikely to return to the team after seeing very little time down the stretch and being left off the postseason roster. Touted prospect Jonathan Schoop may or may not be ready to come to Baltimore at some point in 2012.

Casilla comes to Charm City off a year in Minnesota where he hit .241 and got on base at a .282 clip over 106 games. He added 17 doubles and a home run, but his 21 stolen bases and .980 fielding position have been the saving grace for those applauding the acquisition.

I won’t mix words here. I don’t think much of the addition of Alexi Casilla. I would have preferred the Orioles acquire an actual legitimate major league second baseman this offseason, not another player to add into the mix with some hope it might actually work out. I’m aware the free agent market isn’t particularly deep at second base (Marco Scutaro, Kelly Johnson and Jeff Keppinger stand out), but I’d prefer someone from that group to a “by committee” scenario.

It’s further concerning because it reinforces the idea that the O’s aren’t going to suddenly become the “sleeping giants” of the offseason the way some (including ESPN’s Buster Olney) have suggested.

I instead believe it further reinforces what Dan Duquette said back in May during the press conference to announce OF Adam Jones’ six year contract extension. When our own Luke Jones asked if the $85.5 million deal was a sign that the team was more willing to spend money in free agency, Duquette declared “I don’t think the way to build a team is through free agency.”

(Continued on Page 2…)

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