Results tagged ‘ Tom Foley ’

Rays Even the Series Against Phillies

 

 

 

From Batting Practice on last night the Tampa Bay Rays looked loose and in control compared to the stiff and “deer in the headlights” stares from Weds. night. As the Rays get some playoff vibes they will no longer have those gitters and butterflies. It was just a case of International stage fright last night. They came out on fire and ready to rock the house on Thursday night.

From the offset, the Rays were joking around and just more “rays-like” last night. Gone was the pressure to put a 2-spot up on the Phillies and make them play like a champion up in their park this weekend. Also gone was the aspect that the Rays did not belong here, that luck and a great pitching staff got them here, not offensive talent.

Funny that Fox put a mic on Jonny Gomes last night. Of all the people to mic up on the bench, Jonny can give you the best sound bytes, but you have to keep a censor near you too. The conversation between him and Andy Sonnanstine was fantastic. I do not know what  it is about the bandwagon comments by the Philly fans, but alot of us have been here for a long time, and we are not going anywhere.

I get so upset when the Philly media calls the are a “bandwagon community.” There is that cottage element in every town. Some poeple just do not want to believe until it is thrust into their faces 24/7, then they jump on a bandwagon with gusto. But to say that ALL Rays fans are bandwagoneers is just plain stupid and lacks a certain amount of braincells.

 Prove I have not been a long time fan if you are so inclined, and I will pull out the tickets tubs and stadium giveaways to prove you are full of it all. Prove I am only going to the game becuase we are in the Playoffs and I will show you pictures from Rays finctions and events you do not even know about. Prove I was not here in 1998, and I will hit you in the head with my purple seat cushion given out at the first game ever for the Rays.

 

 

Los Lonely Boys

Now that was a National Anthem. It was clean, concise and had a great amount of harmony without needing a timeout to just catch up with the octave changes. I really enjoyed their performance alot. Just goes to show you that a band that has a more country-based roots can wing it with the best of them.

But, I do have to take exception to an article I saw in a local fishwrap. MLB must be crazy to not give the Rays the top choices in the anthem singers. I saw that the Phillies will have Taylor Swift singing on Sat. night. Guess we are not worthy yet of a breakthrough country artist in the dirty south. Guess we would not understand her country twang and  great vocals.

Guess it is back to the pumpkin patch for all of us. And the Sunday anthem singer might just be the best of all of them. I loove hearing Patti LaBelle sing period. That is my music era, and I relish it. I am really anxoius to hear that woman belt out a tune on her pipes. It might be the best one I have heard since that Whitney Houston performance at the Tampa Super Bowl a million years ago.

 

 

Evan Longoria

Fist off Evan, congrats on the nod by The Sporting News  for top  AL rookie this year in the MLB. There is no one else in the American League right now that can touch you defensively or offensively. It is a great honor and one you truly deserve this year.

With that out of the way, let’s get doen to business here. What is going on with you at the plate dude. In the ALDS and ALCS you started out slow and by now got your groove on, but so far you are in a tire rut of  a major hole. In the World Series, you are currently hitting goose eggs for 8, with 4 strikeouts.

Granted if anyone on this team deserves some slack, it is you. But I do not consider you  a rookie. You do not act or play like one, and to not throw that label on you is a treu hnor in itself. But, dude this team needs that clean-up guy to poke a few balls into the holes and provide some protection for Pena and Crawford in the batting order.

 

 

So far the only people scared of you is the couple in the front row of Section 110, who have seen a ball flash before their eyes in the past couple of series from either your glove or Jason Bartletts’. The ball down the line last night was not within your reach, and that error charged to you was for force of the ball, not your effort. We all know you are the second coming of Brook Robinson at third, but why do you have to be hitting like Vinny Castilla right now on the biggest stage of your life.

 

    

 

Upton and Pena Wake up from Slumber

Last night the 2-3-4 hitters for the Rays went 2-11, but the two were hits by B J Upton. That does not tell all of the story here. The trio also scored 3 RBI’s in the game, even though there was no hits by Pena and Longoria.  The Rays scored 2 runs on ground outs in the 1st inning. During the regular season, the Rays only drove in about 53.2 percent of the men from third base with less than 2-outs, which was the 6th worst percentage in the majors.

But last night, the Rays put the Phillies down early as Akinora Iwamura walked to lead off the game, and Upton hit a beauty into rightfirld that was mishandled by Jason Werth. With the ball bouncing on the ground towards Werth, he took his eye off the ball long enough to make a bad adjustment and the ball hit the outside of the glove and bounced away from him. That left men on the corner with no outs for the Rays.

Pena then hit a strong grounder to Jimmy Rollins at short and he had to make the play at first base. With that smash, Iwamura easily scored from third and Upton moved over to thrid base on the play. Evan Longoria then hit another screamer to Rollins, who had to duplicate his throw again to first and Upton came in to score to put the Rays up 2-0.

 

 

Rays Keep Pressure on Phillies

The Rays came out again in the 2nd inning and kept pressure on the Phillies on the bases. Dioner Navarro hit the first of his two hits to right in the inning and Rocco Baldelli walked on a controversial call.

With the count, 3-2, Rocco  was apparently rung up by Home Plate Umpire Kerwin Danley, but in an appeal to first, First Base Umpire Feildin Culbreth signaled that Baldelli checked his swing and a ball was called on the play. Replays showed that the Rays might have gotten a gift from that call as Baldelli’s wrist did break, and the play should have been a strikeout.

 

 

Bartlett then came up and hit a smash down to Pedro Feliz at thris that he could not get a handle on, and Bartlett reached on an infield single. This loaded the bases for the Rays with the top of the order coming up for the Rays. Aki quickly popped up to Rollins before Upton hit a ball to right. With Werth having trouble before on a grounder to right, Third Base Coach Tom Foley sent Navarro to the plate.

 

 

After he scored Foley also sent Baldelli to the plate and Rocco came in comepletely sideways into Phillies’ catcher, Carlos Ruiz, but could not dislodge the ball. It was a funny play to actually watch, becuase Baldelli did evrything he could to make Ruis drop the ball, but a overhead camera shot showed if he stuck his hand out beofre hitting Ruiz, he was safe at the corner of the plate.  But that is hindsight.

 

 

In the 4th inning, Cliff Floyd led off with a single to center for the Rays. Navarro then came up and hit a ball up the middle to put 2 men on base for the Rays. Baldelli then came up and hit a ball off the end of the bat to Feliz, who threw to seocnd base to get Navarro. Utley tried to get Baldelli at first, but could not get his throw off in time to snag the speedy outfielder.

 

 

So with guys at the corners and 1-out, Bartlett came up and attempted  a suicide squezze on the first pitch, but bunted it foul. Floyd was breaking for home on the play and might have taken the ball into his body if not for the foul. Bartlett then attempted to bunt on the next pitch and put down a perfect safety squeeze bunt in front of  Phillie starter, Brett Myers. Myers only play was to first and Floyd easily scored to put the Rays up 4-0.

 

Phillie Errors

Phillie made two key errors in the game, but only one cost them any runs. The error in the first inning by Werth in right is the only play in the game to cost the Phillies. On that play, his slow movement to the ball coupled with  not watching the ball into his glove cost the team a early run.

 

 

In the 5th inning, Pena walked and was leading off first while Longoria was at the plate. On the 2nd pitch to Longoria, Ruiz fired a throw down to first hoping to catch Pena leaning, but instead the ball hit Howards in the glove and bounced over Pena into rightfield. Pena advanced to second on the play, but was stranded on base by 2 quick outs by the Rays.

 

            

 

James “Big Game” Shields

Considering this was a huge game for the Rays, what other pitcher did you want to hit the rubber than James Shields. He went out there and had problems in every innig, but remained cool and trusted his defense and came out with a win on the night. Shields went 5.2 innings and gave up 7-hits, but shut out the Phillies during his start.

But his night was not without drama. In the 2nd inning he gave up a double to Ryan Howard that 1-hopped to the wall in centerfield to lead off the inning. He then walked Pat Burrell  and threw a Wild Pitch to put both men in scoring position before settling down and getting 3 quick outs to strand the 2 Phillie runners on base.

 

 

In the 3rd, he again gave up a double to Ruiz down the leftfield line that bounced around in the corner on Crawford before setting down the next 3 Phillie batters in order. In the 4th, he gave up another lead-off single to Howard and gave Shane Victorino a infield single to second on a ball that hit the turf seam and bounced up on Iwamura. He again got it under control and set the next 2 Phillies down to strand both men on base.

 

 

In the 5th inning he got some help from Baldelli in getting out of the inning. With 1-out in the inning, Utley sent a shallow fly to right that Baldelli tracked down and caught in time. Werth had wandered too far off first base and was doubled up on a throw by Baldelli to Pena to end the inning.

In the 6th, Shields got two quick outs then issued a single to Victorino to right.  Greg Dobbs then came up and hit a 1-hopper to center that Upton could not catch in time and the Phillies had 2 men on with 2 outs. That was it for Shields and Rays Manager Joe Maddon went to the Bullpen.

 

 

The Price is Right in the Bullpen

Dan Wheeler then came in for the Rays and got Feliz to ground to Longoria, who threw to Iwamura for the force out and end the 6th inning.  Wheeler came back out in the 7th inning and gave up a walk to Ruiz to lad-off the inning.  He then got Rollins and Werth to strikeout to post two quick outs in the inning.

 

 

Maddon then came on and brought on David Price, the rookie to face Utley and Howard. Price gave up a walk to Utley befoe strking out Howard on 5 pitches to end the 7th inning. In the 8th, Price came back out and got 2 quick outs before Eric Bruntlett came on to pich hit for Burrell.

Bruntlett homered to left on the first pitch from Price to break the shutout for the Rays.  Price rebounded by getting Feliz to hit a grounder to short to end the inning with the Rays up 4-1. In the 9th inning, Ruiz lead off with a double down the left field line. Price then got Rollins to pop out to shallow center to Bartlett.

 

 

 

Longoria then had a ball ride up his glove and bounce away from him for his 1st error of the World Series. Ruiz scored on the play by Werth and pulled the Phillies to within 2 runs, 4-2. Utley then struck out and Howard hit a ball to Iwamura backing up behind first to end the game for the Rays. 

 

      

 

Remember Pitchers’, Chicks Dig the Long Ball

The Rays pitchers got their first real chance to step into the cages today during Batting Practice. With the games heading to the National League park, the Rays’ pitchers will have to bat in their games. Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine were seen taking their licks in the cages today.

 

 

Scott Kazmir also got into the action by hitting a few long and deep for the Rays during BP. All three batters/pitchers have a good stroke, and it will all get at least 2 at bats per outing up in Philly. The Rays pitchers’ have not had to bat since the Florida Marlins series in July of 2008. In the Interleague series this year, Andy Sonnanstine was the big pitcher’s stud hitting .400, or 2-5, with 2 walks in the series.  Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir went hitless going 0-4 and 0-2 respectfully.

 

 

 

Back-to-Back Shutouts Doom Halos

 

Rays 2, Angels 0

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The Rays currently are scoring 29 more runs than the opposition from the 7th innig on this year (60-31). That statistic is leading the league in run differential from the 7th inning on this year.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

 

                                The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

 

                                            The Good

 

Rays pitchers have now blanked the AL West division co-leaders two games in a row, and are looking for their thrid sweep of the season at home tomorrow. Rays pitchers have now posted 18 shutout innings against the Anaheim Angels this series.

 

Scott Kazmir was joking and laughing with B J Upton during the  Rays’ team photo today. Both were perched on the second level of the risers and seemed to be enjoying their own private jokes while the other players took their spots in the shoot. Kazmir held that calm, loose demeanor throughout his 6 innings tonight and even his record at 1-1.

 

Kazmir is in just his second start since he came off the DL with an elbow strain. Tonight was also Kazmir’s 99th career start, and 100th appearance. Scott struck out 8 Angels tonight and  did not start out like the old Kazmir. In the first few innings, Scott seemed to be focusing in on his mecahnics and posted some low velocity numbers on the pitch clock. As the game progresses, and he got more secure in his release point, Scott’s speed and pitch selection kept the Angels’ hitter at bay.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

 

*** Carlos Pena upped his RBI total to 19 with a sacrifice fly to center to score Carl Crawford from third and up the score to 2-0.

 

** Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett went 2-3 in the game with a double in the bottom of the 7th inning to get into scoring position for the Rays. Bartlett also combined with Aki Iwamura for a critical double play late in the game.

 

* Aki Iwamura is looking more relaxed and hitting the ball closer to the ground in the past few games. Iwamura went 3-5 tonight, with a run scored in the bottom of the 1st inning.

                                     

                                          The Bad

In a game like this, it is sometimes hard to find a critcal mistake or “bad” move. Tonight I am going to talk about the Carl Crawford steal attempt in the bottom of the second inning. Carl got caught stealing second by Angels’ catcher Mike Napoli in a one-sided tag out.

 

Carl seemed a bit unsure and did not get a clean break to second on the play. On most nights, Carl’s speed and adaptive nature can get him the steal. Tonight the ball was waiting there for Carl on a bullet from Napoli.

                       

                                                 The Ugly

 

I unfortunately have a clear choice for the “ugly” play of the night. It happened in the bottom of the 7th inning with the Rays up only 1-0 at the time.

 

Shortstop Jason Bartlett had just doubled to left and was standing on second when Iwamura hit a rocket to Erik Aybar at short for the Angels. Aybar juggled with the ball, and was about to go to first, when he saw that Bartlett was trying to score on the play. Aybar threw to Napoli, who covered the plate perfectly and tagged out Bartlett.

 

Bartlett did not run through a “stop” sign at third, but was given the sign to go for the plate with two outs in the inning. The play ended the Rays scoring chances, and left the score close at 1-0 going into the top of the 8th inning. Third base coach Tom Foley did not even hesistate to stop Bartlett, but took the gamble to maybe secure another run for the team.

 

Former Rays player of the Night:

               

 Tonight’s former Rays player is current Cincy outfielder Ryan Freel. Ryan went 3-5 with two runs scored in the Red’s loss to the New York  Mets 12-6. Freel hit two singles and a double tonight and stole his 5th base of the year.

Rain Dampens More than Turf in Loss

 

Rays 3, Red Sox 7

 

 

Rain can do a number on you mentally. It can make you get into your future situation and linger with positives and negatives. It can make you get edgy and feel confined and isolated. It can work to start early muscle fatique and mentally drain you of energy. Now, the Red Sox rain gods did not doom the teams to another day, but the game did get started at 9:30 last night and did make both teams a bit lackluster and dull until they mentally ” woke up”.

The result was a Rays loss.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The average ” in play” life expectancy of a major league baseball is 7 pitches.

 

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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - Faces T-Shirt                                      The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - Faces T-Shirt

 

                                        

                                             The Good,The Bad,and the Ugly

 

 

 

                                                  The Good

 

The “Good” of last night’s game is the fact we finally got to play it around 9:30-ish last night. On this roadtrip, the Rays have had a few incidents were the elements have been playing with them. In Baltimore, all three games had a hint of rain, with the shower gods letting only a few minutes of downpour ruin that series.

 

In Boston, the entire series has the chance of rain, with tonight’s game also having a better than good chance of repeating a late start.

 

Honorable mention “Good” guys:

 

*** Rays first baseman Carlos Pena is finally coming out of his batting funk. Yesterday he got his first RBI in awhile, and today he went 2-4 to raise his average to .212 for the season. Carlos is stuck on 6 homers this year, but is looking more relaxed at the plate. He is a career .301 hitter at Fenway.

 

** Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett has been hitting and fielding better since his nagging shoulder has healed a bit. He also went 2-3 last night, with a double to raise his average to .240.

 

* Carl Crawford is riding another hitting streak and is hitting the ball alot better in the last few days. He also went 2-4 last night with a double  and is hitting .299 for the year.

 

 

                                   

 

                                              The Bad

 

Edwin Jackson looked out of sorts last night after the rain delay in Boston. He did not have his ususal control and seemed to rush his pitches to the plate.

 

Jackson did get his composure in gear late in the first innig, but the Red Sox bats came alive in the bottom of the 4th inning and put the game out of reach for the Rays. Edwin  is now 2-3 and his ERA ballooned to 4.98 for the year. Jackson did get 4 strikeout, but also gave up 3 walks to the Red Sox.

 

 

 

I am going to review the MLB TV broadcast of the game and see if Rays rookie Evan Longoria ran threw a “stop sign” put up by Rays third base coach Tom Foley last night. The play could have beeen a ignitor to better things last night had Longoria not been tagged out by Jason Varitek at home. The slide was a bit weak, but Varitek is not your usual catcher, and made the play with ease.

 

                                                    The Ugly

 

The main ugly I want to address is why the Bosotn Red Sox, a two-time World Series Champion has not put money into their visiting clubhouse to upgrade, expand or even eliminate the cramped space with a MLB-worthy locker room.

 

Now the answer is actually pretty simple. but it is a bit sneaky. The cramped, century old style lockroom is designed to be a mental note to the unimportance of the visiting team. It is made to get into their heads and disrupt the process that this game is “in the bag”, or that you do not have to earn your wins at Fenway.

 

The Red Sox have put in new batting cages under the stands for both teams, but at the expense of no new lockerroom expansion or even renewal. Mentally being cramped in that small space can be demeaning to the psyche and play on your thoughts at times.

 

When I was at Florida, we used to have to go up to Knoxville to play the University of Tennesse at their stadium. The visiting lockerroom was small, and the team pumped the song, “rocky Top” into the room through the speakers in the ceiling. there was no volume knob or way to shut it off to even talk to each other. That did play into our minds and did finally drive a few of us a bit batty before the game.

 

Never under estimate the little things that can defeat the mind in sports. It is a free advantage for your opponent, and will be used without recourse.

 

 

Former Rays Player of the Night:

                         

The player of the night is former Rays Randy Winn who has been with the San Francisco giants for a few season. Winn went 3-5 last night to up his average to .261 for the year.  Randy’s team fell to the Philadelphia Philles in 10 innings last night, 6-5.

You might remember a few years ago when Winn won a car for his mother with a half court shot during a Golden State Warriors’ NBA game. No word on if the car is still active and running.

Rays Lose Close One 3-2

 

Well, it is that time of the night/day that I tell you my thoughts and opinions on the latest Rays loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles 6-5. But first, We have to give you some good trivia to make you smile and want to attend Jeff Niemann’s MLB pitching debut tomorrow.

 

 

 

Trivia Question:

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In 1931, Chick Hafey of the St. Louis Cardinals became the first batting champion to wear glasses.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly     The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

Now back to our normally scheduled The Good the Bad, and the Ugly for tonights game.

 

 

                                              The Good

 

The  mire presence of Rays top prospect Evan Longoria must have made an impression on the Rays hopeful fans who do not usually attend games.

 

The Rays experienced  almost a 20 percent increase over attendance from the Friday night contest. I am going to attribute that to the arrival of Longoria tonight, and no the free Rays visors given out to the fans. Evan did almost everything right tonight in his pro debut.  He signed a ball for me after Batting Pratice( again, thank you Evan), he handled the ball numerous times and the throws were tight and on target. And he got a single tonight and his first RBI to top it all off.

 

 

It was a chore just to get the ball for him again. I am getting the impression that the Orioles do not like to give the balls back after major feats, or a rookies first hit, or RBI.  the ball was finally retrieved before we had to send Jonny Gomes over there for it.The  fact that Evan is here will ease the defense about the hot corner. I know from playing third base, it can make or break your ball club in who is manning that spot. If the player has the reactions of a cat, the Hot Corner can be your best friend to your ball club. I personally think it will be manned by Longoria for a long time.

 

But then again, we thought current Oriole and former Ray, Aubrey Huff was the second coming of Wade Boggs.

 

 

*** Rays Designated Hitter/Rightfielder Jonny Gomes cam up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th tonight and the crowd was on their seats looking for a tying run from the bomber.  Jonny connected on a George Sherrill pitch hit to right field, but it fell just short of the wall for an out.

 

The crowd was totally into the at bat, and the entire Rays and O’s fans in attendance were holding their breath when Gomes hit that monster.

 

 

** The hitting of Centerfielder BJ Upton tonight pulled his average up to above .300 again. Upton is seeing the ball better and his contact with the ball is crisp and on the head right now. I am going to predict he will go on a 10 game hitting streak from tonight on………..knock on good wood everyone.

 

 

*The number one Kudo of the night belongs to Evan, but Carlos Pena did nothing to even sit in the shades tonight. In the earlier innings, Carlos snagged a ball going down the first baseline at a backwards angle, and got the runner with a throw to pitcher Jason Hammel. It was a super play, and should be on the Top 10 plays of the night on ESPN without a doubt.

 

In his next at bat, the crowd was calling for a Home Run. And Carlos did not disappoint his fans this night.  He hit a solo homer to right field that would have cleared any ballpark in the MLB.   Currently, Pena is leading the American League with 5 homers, and is tied for first within RBI’s with Blue Jays Vernon Well for the lead with 12.

 

 

                                             The Bad

 

 

There really wasn’t alot of bad tonight by any one player. There was a few bad moments. And for that reason, I am going to just list three plays that changed the course of the game for the Rays.

 

***  A  series of misplayed flyballs to deep Right Center  by BJ Upton and  Nathan Haynes gave the Orioles  DH Aubrey Huff a ground rule double, and two batter later, Ramon Hernandez got  a triple after some confusion in the outfield.

 

**   The Orioles had brought in Chad Bradford, a sidearm slinging pitcher who seems to hit the top of the dirt during his delivery into the contest. BJ upton managed to get a bunt single to third and was sitting on first base. Bradford has a weird pitching style, and a even wilder pick-off move.

 

It appeared to me that Bradford had twice before shufflied his right rear foot on the rubber before he throws to first base.  BJ did not pick up on this and was cuaght in bewteen first and second for a “caught stealing” attempt. I mention this, because I wonder if BJ sometimes is too aggressive. The reasoning for this, is that he has had three baserunning errors in the past three games. The fact he was caught stealing on this occasion would not have produced a run, but maybe a slight moment of concentration loss is to blame here.

 

* The Rays brought in reliever Dan Wheeler for Trever Miller.  It was 2 outs in the top of the 9th innig with no one on base. Wheeler then served up a home run ball to leftfield for Ramon Hernandez.   He is currently batting .194, and got two RBI’s and a triple and homer tonight against our pitching staff.

 

 

                                       The Ugly

 

The ugly tonight is the baserunning situations that have cost the Rays some runs in the last few games. I have already talked about one of them in the above “Bad” section.  Willy Aybar was hurt when he slide into home after running through a stop sign by  third base coachTom Foley.  In the slide st home, Aybar aggrevated his hamstring and is on the 15 day DL for his actions. Not only BJ Upton, but other Rays have been caught in ” no man’s land” this year by over running the bases, or testing the arms of outfielders in the division.

 

I am all for testing the arms of the players, and triyng to be aggressive at times, but do these players have a  personal “green light” to moonlight decisions on the base paths, or do they just mis read the sign sometimes.

 

There was one play tonight that caught my eye and I am pleased to see it work out for the better.  There was a hit and run play called with BJ Upton on second and Eric Hinske up to bat.  BJ Upton was on the move and Hinske hit a beautiful ball to left center to move BJ to third. During the next at bat, Evan Longoria hit the ball to left field and scored Upton.

 

I guess you just have to play the odds sometimes when you are running the bases. But at  this early junction in the year, are the actions worth a possible loss……….we shall keep this in our sights and see what develops here.

 

 

Rays Former Player of the Day

 

Current second baseman Brendan Harris of the Minnesota Twins is batting .367.

Tonight he was 2-4 with a pair of singles. He also was the pivot man for a 5-4-3 double play to end tonights win for the Twins.    

 

 

 

 

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