Results tagged ‘ Johnny Damon ’

Edition Nine

Greetings Yankee fans!

 

And welcome to the ninth edition of Yankee Yapping.

 

Away we go!

 

My thoughts on…

 

This Past Home Stand

 

 


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After last weekend’s series victory in Boston (and the end of a 10-game road trip in which the Yankees went 7-3 on) the Bronx Bombers came home for a six-game home stand.

 

The home stand started off shaky as the Yanks lost 10-9 in an “almost game” on Tuesday. Down 10-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yanks showed some fight and life, scoring four runs and coming within an eyelash of winning the game.

 

Rough loss, but they rebounded nicely winning on Wednesday by a score of 9-2 with a good game from Andy Pettitte and timely hitting from Jorge Posada and Jerry Hairston, Jr. (who both homered in the win).

 

Looking for the series victory, A.J. Burnett tossed a solid game Thursday afternoon. However, I kept asking myself after that game, “How can a pitcher strike out 12 batters and lose?” Well, apparently it’s possible, because it happened to Burnett. He went six innings and gave up three runs on just two hits, walked three and struck out a season-high 12.

 

The Yankees dropped the series finale to Texas, 7-2. It was the first time the Yanks lost a series since the July 30-Aug. 2 series in Chicago, losing three of four to the White Sox.

 

Coincidently enough, the White Sox came to town for the final three games of the home stand, and the Empire once again struck back.

 

On Friday the Yanks saw a gem from their ace, the Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia. He pitched seven strong innings and gave up two runs on eight hits. He walked one and matched his season high strikeout mark, fanning 10 White Sox.   

 

Even though he didn’t notch the win, Sabathia still has the Major League lead in the wins category with 15. I said it last week and I’ll say it again: CC could very well be “Cy Cy” this year.

 

With the game tied in the 10th, Robinson Cano delivered the death blow, a game-winning three-run blast that landed in the Yankee bullpen to give the Bombers a Friday night win. 

 

It was Cano’s 21st home run of the season, his fourth career walk-off hit, and very first career walk-off home run.

 

It was the first time the Yanks hit a walk-off homer against the White Sox since Don Baylor beat them with one swing in 1985.

 

The Yankees now have 12 walk-off wins this year (if you count the walk-off error by Luis Castillo on June 12 vs. the Mets) Six of those 12 walk-offs have come via the home run, which ties a single-season team record.

 

Saturday the Yankees came out swinging, and in my mind the unexpected happened. I thought that the Yankees had a good chance of winning (as I always do), especially because of the White Sox’ starting pitcher, Jose Contreras.

 

Contreras was 0-6 against the Yankees going into Saturday’s start, but then again we never know what we’re getting out of Sergio Mitre anymore, who made the start for the Bombers.

 

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What we got Saturday afternoon was pretty good. Mitre looked great and pitched a gem, even taking a perfect game into the fifth inning.

 

Mitre had to be taken out after getting hit with a line drive, but his performance was outstanding. Chad Gaudin (who relieved Mitre after he was struck on the arm with a line drive) also did well, and the White Sox only mustered one hit in that game against the two Yankee hurlers.

 

Manager Joe Girardi said they will evaluate Mite and after that make the decision as to whether or not he will make his next start. Saturday marked the first time that Mitre pitched six complete innings since Aug. 25, 2007. Hopefully we’ll see more of that down the stretch, if he’s OK to pitch.

 

With the combined efforts of Cano, Hairston, Alex Rodriguez, and Johnny Damon (who all knocked in two runs on Saturday) the White Sox were squashed, 10-0. Rodriguez hit his 23rd home run of the year and Hideki Matsui also drove in a run.

 

Saturday’s win was the 17th time this year the Yanks have scored 10 or more runs in one game.  If you ask me, that is just ridiculous. To me, that number says the Yankees know how to score runs like it’s no one’s business.

 

The finale against the ChiSox (and last game of the home stand) was yet another victory for the Yankees as they won, 8-3 on Sunday afternoon.    

 

Damon tied his career-high home run count of 24 and Mark Teixeira blasted a three-run homer, his 32nd of the year, in the win. The parade of pitchers (Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Phil Hughes, and Phil Coke) did a fine job of holding down the White Sox, possibly knocking them out of playoff contention with the sweep. The Yankees outscored Chicago 23-5 this past weekend.

 

Aceves got the win on Sunday and moves to 9-1 in relief. He has been so valuable to the Yankees this year, and that statement is evidenced by his record.

 

Overall the Yankees went 4-2 on their home stand, and have won 20 of their last 26 ballgames. They have gone 31-11 since the All-Star break (which is the best in baseball) and are 20-7 in this month alone. I don’t think the Yankees want the summer month of August to end with those kinds of numbers.

 

The last day of August is today, and Andy Pettitte (11-6, 4.18 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling on their winning streak (and their hot streak this month) tonight in Baltimore against Jeremy Guthrie (9-12, 5.26 ERA) and the Orioles.

 

The Yanks will play their next seven games on the road (three in Baltimore and then four in Toronto) and then will come home to play Tampa Bay on Labor Day, which is Monday, Sept. 7.

 

Oh, and as they’ve had most of the year, the Yankees still own the best record in baseball at 82-48. They are also the only team (at press time) with 80 or more wins.

 

With each game, the Yankees are looking more and more like the team to beat in the playoffs, and right now all is right in “Yankee Universe.”

 

Joba Rules Getting Old?

 

 


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Everybody knows about the “Joba Rules” but quite honestly I’m getting really tired of them.

 

On July 29, Chamberlain made a scheduled start in Tampa Bay against the Rays, and shined like he had been since the second half of the season started after the All-Star break.

 

He went eight innings in that game and gave up no runs on just three hits, walked two, and struck out five.

 

After the great game in Tampa, the Yankees rested him for eight days, not allowing him to start again until Aug. 6. In hindsight it was the right thing to do (since they needed Chamberlain to make the start against the Red Sox at home–a game that he won, but didn’t pitch well in)

 

Against Boston, Chamberlain went five innings and gave up four runs on six hits. He walked seven in that game and struck out five. If you want my opinion, I think the extra rest probably hurt him, but I completely understand why the Yanks did it. They needed him to throw in a crucial series against the Red Sox that they needed to win.  

 

He pitched again on Aug. 11 vs. Toronto (on normal rest) and wasn’t great, but wasn’t horrible, either. He went six innings, gave up four earned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Chamberlain didn’t pick up the win, but the Yanks did come out on top, 7-5.

 

Since that game against Toronto, Chamberlain has not pitched particularly well at all. He went out again on normal rest in Seattle and was less-than-acceptable. He tossed only four innings and gave up four earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out two.

 

He then went on to pitch against Texas this past Tuesday and again went on eight days rest. The rust showed, and he coughed up a four-run Yankee lead and he went on to lose the game, his second consecutive loss. He looked extremely flat in that outing, only going four innings allowing seven earned runs on nine hits.

 

Sunday against Chicago is when I got annoyed. Chamberlain only went three innings and tossed 35 pitches before being pulled. He gave up two runs on four hits, but the reason they pulled him was because they want to be careful with him; they want to make sure he won’t pass his 2009 innings limit.

 

Joe Girardi has been quite secretive and has not revealed what Chamberlain’s innings limit is exactly. The media has estimated that the limit is in the neighborhood of 160. Right now he’s at 133 and 2/3. Girardi even said that as high as 180 innings this year would be a “danger zone” for Chamberlain.

 

I really don’t get it anymore. We all know he’s on an innings limit, but when he’s throwing the ball so well, why slow him down? That’s exactly what the Yankees did. His first four games after the All-Star break he was 4-0 with a 3.81 ERA. They messed with him, and now he’s off kilter.

 

I understand why the Yanks are being careful with him. Chamberlain (in the Yankee organization’s mind) is an integral part of their future. They don’t want to ruin his arm at 23 years old.

 

I mean, look at what has happened to Edinson Volquez (26 years old) of the Cincinnati Reds. He tossed 196 innings last year in 2008 and got as far as 49 and 2/3 this year before needing to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

 

The Yankees certainly don’t want that to see something like that happen to Chamberlain. But if he’s pitching well, let him go. The Yankees are eventually going to have to give him more innings of work before the post-season if they want him to start.

 

All I know is that they better figure something out for him, and hopefully they can find it for Chamberlain before October. The Yankees need him to be dealing in full force come the ALDS.

 

Besides, I think everyone (not just me) has grown extremely tired of the “Joba Rules.”

 

This is Chamberlain’s third year in the big leagues. Just take the leash off and let him throw.

 

Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano

 

 


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I think Major League Baseball should investigate these two players just to make sure they are human beings and not hitting machines.

 

Both Jeter and Cano are on absolute tears right now.

 

To start, Jeter has been red hot with 16 hits in his last 10 games. In those 10 games, he has scored 13 runs and knocked in six along with hitting two homers and stealing three bases.

 

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It just seems every time Jeter comes up, he comes up with big hits and RBIs. On Sunday night it was announced that Jeter was named the shortstop on ESPN’s “20th Year All-Star Team,” beating out Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ozzie Smith.

 

Jeter has 2,710 career hits (175 of which have come in 2009 so far) and he will soon be the all-time Yankees’ hits leader. Lou Gehrig is currently sitting atop that list, but (without question) by season’s end Jeter will pass him.

 

Many people are talking Jeter, along with Mark Teixeira, up to be the American League Most Valuable Player. If you want my opinion, Jeter was robbed in 2006 when Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins won it ahead of him.

 

If he’s in the discussion, I have a feeling Jeter will not be the runner-up this year. It’ll just be another accomplishment under his belt. But if you ask Jeter, he’d say he wants a World Title over the MVP. He has a good shot at getting both.

 

And then there’s Cano.

 

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The young second baseman has also been tearing the cover off the ball, hitting safely in eight of his last 10 games. Over that span he’s collected 14 hits with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and eight runs scored.

 

He’s already set a new career-high in home runs with 21 to this point (he passed his career-high home run mark of 19 on Tuesday vs. Texas when he went deep for the 20th time–before hitting number 21 on Friday in walk-off style) and he has turned some heads with his stellar defense this season.

 

Cano is really showing no signs of slowing down, and I can remember hearing some analysts on ESPN say he’s the best second baseman in the league in terms of getting the ball to first base when executing a double play. Watching him all year, I couldn’t agree more.

 

Both his defense and offense have improved since last year, and I’m really happy that he hit his first walk-off home run on Friday night. He looked so happy when he rounded the bases, and I expected something big from him, seeing as how incredibly hot he’s been hitting.

 

I know I’ve profiled the hitting and defense of both players in past editions of the blog already, but I just couldn’t help pointing it out again. Jeter and Cano are on fire, and if they continue to hit they way they are, they will be extremely difficult to pitch to in the playoffs.

 

30 hits between two players in only 10 games seems quite ridiculous, but I guess this year it’s normal for Jeter and Cano. These two guys are like Superman and Batman; they are so powerful and they won’t give up.

 

September Call-Ups

                   

With the end of August tomorrow, we have officially hit the stretch run of the baseball season. And in the stretch run, teams are allowed to expand their active rosters from 25 players to 40, if they choose to.

 

The Yankees will call up some minor leaguers to help them reach their September goal: clinching the American League Eastern Division.

 

 


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I have no doubt that Ramiro Pena will get rewarded with a call-up. He played in 53 games this season, and helped fill the void left by Alex Rodriguez before his return from his hip injury on May 15.

 

Pena hit .277 with no homers and seven RBIs in those 53 games for the Yanks this year, and he’ll most likely get a call back to the show on Tuesday for a role on the bench. I think he’s earned it.

 

I also have a feeling we’ll see catcher Francisco Cervelli back up in the majors. He did a great job of filling in for Jorge Posada when he was injured, and put up some decent numbers, even for a catcher.

 

 


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Cervelli hit .269 in 25 games this year with a home run and nine RBIs. In the last 10 games he played in before being sent packing, he collected nine hits with five RBIs and six runs scored.

 

I really think Cervelli could very well be the starting catcher in the future for the Yankees, of course after Posada’s catching days are over.

 

Expect to see a few pitchers come up, maybe Jonathan Albaladejo and Mark Melancon, both of whom have already been up and back down to the minors.

 

Maybe Edwar Ramirez gets a call back, but who knows. They’ll need some arms to keep Joba Chamberlain’s innings count down, so there is help on the way for Chamberlain and the starters who don’t get far into the game.

 

There’s a possibility Shelley Duncan gets a call up. He was raking in the minors and briefly made an appearance in the show before the non-waivers trade deadline.

 

Although he got a mid-season call-up and was seen in the Yankee dugout, Duncan didn’t even take the field because the Yankees received Jerry Hairston, Jr. at the trade deadline, which sent Duncan back to Triple-A.

 

 


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Duncan made a splash when he was called up in August of 2007, hitting .257 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 34 games. He was believed to be part of the Yankee youth movement after ’07, but when he came up in 2008 he just wasn’t the same player.

 

In ’08 he played in only 23 games and hit .175 with a homer and just six RBIs.

 

This year in the minors for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, Duncan smashed 29 homers with 92 RBIs while batting .274. If he could show those kinds of numbers in the majors, he could possibly be a mainstay in the majors.

 

Maybe the 29 year-old Duncan gets rewarded for his good Minor League year with an end-of-season call-up. If not, he can spend time reading his “Shelley Duncan Facts” website (please don’t take these seriously, folks)

 

http://www.freewebs.com/shelleyduncanisthemessiah/shelleyduncanfacts.htm

 

Along with all these minor leaguers who have had a few “cups of coffee” with the Yanks this year, hopefully we will see the return of Brett Gardner from the disabled list.

 

Gardner fractured his thumb sliding into second base in a game at home against Oakland, but the speedster is hoping to come back to the Yankees within the week. A runner of Gardner’s speed (along with everything else he’s done this year) makes him worthy of a post-season roster spot, in my mind.

 

Of all these players who may see the majors on Tuesday, Gardner’s really the only one I see making the playoff roster, but that doesn’t mean the others won’t help the Yankees get there.   

 

Well, that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. I will be back next week with more topics, highlights, and analysis.

 

Until then, Go Yankees!!!

Edition Six

Greetings Yankee Fans!

 

And welcome to the sixth installment of Yankee Yapping.

 

Away we go!

 

My thoughts on…

 

Boston Massacre

 

 


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In the last edition of the blog I said the Yankees had the potential to be 6 and ½ games in front of the Red Sox after this past weekend. Little did I know that would be the case and that the Yankees would meet that potential. I thought for sure the Yankees and Red Sox might split the series, simply by looking at the pitching match-ups.

 

But that wasn’t what happened.

 

It was a great weekend to be a Yankee fan as the Bronx Bombers were all over the Red Sox, sweeping them right out of Yankee Stadium. It was the first time since 1985 the Yankees swept the Red Sox in four games at home.

 

If you don’t think the Yankees were playing at their best, consider the numbers: The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 25-8 this past weekend. The Yankees averaged .299 at the plate while the Red Sox batted .174. The Yankees left the yard nine times while Boston only did so three times.

 

And it wasn’t just the hitting.

 

New York out-pitched Boston, posting an ERA of 1.71 this past weekend. Boston’s ERA was 5.82. Not only did New York have that stat over Boston, but the Yankee pitching kept the Red Sox off the board for 31 and 1/3 consecutive innings.

 

The Yanks had not kept Boston’s bats that quiet since 1952, and it was the longest streak of scoreless innings by the Red Sox since 1974.

 

Derek Jeter said after the game that the pitching for the Yanks has just been unbelievable. “I can’t say enough good about them,” were the words he used when speaking to the media.

 

If you look at each game individually, you can see just how great the Yankees were playing. They outdid the Red Sox in every facet of the game; hitting with runners in scoring position, pitching, defense–the Yankees had it all going for them this past weekend.

 

Coming into this series the Yanks were playing well and Boston wasn’t. The Yanks had just swept Toronto while Boston had just been swept by Tampa Bay, so while the Yankees were riding a winning streak into the series, Boston was coming off a few poor games.

 

It’s safe to say that in New England right now it must be like a funeral while here in New York everyone is all smiles.

 

Not only did Boston get swept by their most hated rivals, they fell to 6 and ½ games out of first place in the AL East Division and are now tied with the Texas Rangers for the lead in the AL Wild Card.

 

Overall it was not a great weekend to be a Boston Red Sox fan.

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 


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When the Yankees signed A.J. Burnett, most Yankee fans were somewhat skeptical. He has a history of being injured, and he had Tommy John surgery early in his career.

 

But I was happy when he signed, and not just because he and I share the same initials (well…sure, that was part of it). But the way he pitched against the Yankees in 2008 was the reason why I was thrilled.

 

We couldn’t beat him, so we joined him.

 

A free agent at the end of last year, Burnett signed for five years and $82.5 million. So far he’s earning it.

 

I think the best term that can be used to describe Burnett is clutch. He has been the Yankees best clutch pitcher this year and probably the most consistent. He may not lead the team with wins (he is second with 10 while CC Sabathia has 12) but if you look at performance, he’s been better than anyone else on the staff.

 

When he out-dueled his former teammate Josh Beckett on Friday night (a game the Yankees won in the 15th inning on a walk-off two-run home run by Alex Rodriguez) that was when I thought “clutch” to myself. He went out there and went head-to-head with Beckett (who currently leads the majors in wins with 13) and matched him pitch-for-pitch.

 

Burnett went 7 and 2/3 vs. Boston, giving up no runs on just one hit. He walked six and struck out six  

 

Not trying to knock any of the rest of the pitchers on the Yankees’ staff, because all of them have been excellent–they proved that this weekend. But Burnett has been the best of the Yankee pitchers all year.

 

In his last 10 games, Burnett is 6-2 with two no-decisions. Both no-decisions were games the Yankees won, and he’s racked up 57 of his 123 total strikeouts over those 10 games.   

 

If he continues to pitch the way he has been going down the stretch, the Yankees are in for a good run and most likely in good shape for October.

 

At press time Burnett boasts a 10-5 record with a 3.67 ERA. His next scheduled start is Wednesday afternoon at home against his former team, the Blue Jays.

 

Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira

 

 


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I really didn’t get Joe Girardi’s reasoning for switching Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter in the batting order this year, but now I’m starting to see why it was a good move.

 

The strategy of Jeter hitting lead-off and Damon batting in front of Mark Teixeira seems to be paying off. Damon and Teixeira compliment each other well in the lineup, and the numbers indicate that statement.

 

In last night’s thrilling 5-2 win over Boston, Damon and Teixeira hit back-to-back home runs for the sixth time this season. That sets a franchise record for back-to-back home runs, and the terrific tandem beat out a very elite group of Yankee players.

 

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went back-to-back five times in 1927, and Gehrig later did it again with Joe DiMaggio in 1936. Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez also matched the total of five in 2005 while Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris went back-to-back four times in the 1961 season.

 

Teixeira actually didn’t realize he and Damon had set the record until Damon told him, and both players were excited about what they have been able to do this year.

 

“Me and Johnny hit strikes,” Teixeira told the press about his round-tripper last night. 

 

“He told me we have the record, and it’s unbelievable.”

 

While Teixeira is leading the American League in home runs with 29, Damon is tearing the cover off the ball. He has 21 homers with 65 RBIs and is batting .281. Six of those 21 long balls have come against the Red Sox.

 

Simply looking at his last 10 games, Damon is 15-for-46 with four homers, eight RBIs, and eight runs scored. In the final year of his contract, he is putting together a season that can earn him more time with the Yankees.

 

I predicted Damon to hit 26 homers this year. He might even hit more than that, the way he’s been playing.

 

As for Teixeira, he’ll certainly be in the MVP discussion. He is proving he can play in New York and play big time.

 

Hopefully these two will provide more exciting moments for the Yankee fans, and they have a chance to put their back-to-back home runs record so far out of reach that no other tandem of players will be able to touch it.

 

The 2009 Season to This Point

 


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I don’t think anyone really expected the Yankees to be in this position right now.

 

With the Tampa Bay Rays coming off their AL Pennant-winning season and the Red Sox making additions to their club, I think a lot of baseball fans expected the Yanks to flop again this year.

 

But look at what they’ve done. They struggled early on, playing without Alex Rodriguez and with a pitching staff that had yet to be acclimated to the new Yankee Stadium and the madness of the Bronx. But they just kept on battling and willing themselves all the way up to first place where they are now.

 

If you look at the last time the Yanks made the playoffs in 2007, it was (for the most part) one player’s responsibility. Rodriguez basically said, “Get on my back, guys. I’ll carry us.” And he did. Without Rodriguez in 2007, the Yankees would have been nowhere.

 

Rodriguez did it all in ’07–walk-off grand slams, walk-off homers, and ninth inning RBIs that were so unreal no one could believe what they were seeing. He finished the season with 54 home runs, 156 RBIs, and averaged .314.

 

2007 was pretty much “The Alex Rodriguez Show.” 2009 is proving to be “The New York Yankees Team Show.”

 

If you look back at how the Yankees handled themselves in 1998, everyone on the team contributed. That was why they won 114 games during the regular season and 125 games overall.

 

One night it might be Jeter, the next night Paul O’Neill, maybe the game after that Tino Martinez or Bernie Williams, and so on.

 

We are getting that same formula this year; one night it might be Damon, the next game Teixeira, another night it could be Jeter or Rodriguez, or Melky Cabrera. They are displaying excellent teamwork, like the 1990s Championship teams. They don’t beat themselves and they play every inning.

 

They’ve also been able to provide game-winning mystique, similar to the old Stadium. Cabrera has been clutch (as noted in the last edition of the blog; three walk-off hits this year) Jorge Posada has had a good year (two walk-offs to this point) and Rodriguez has even provided some walk-off magic (he has two game-winning hits this year)

 

Girardi described the team as “very resilient,” and they certainly are. They bounce back from things quickly, as demonstrated last night; Victor Martinez hit a two-run shot to give Boston a 2-1 lead in the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Damon and Teixeira get the lead right back (to back…OK, bad joke)

 

The point is that if they are able to keep on doing what they are doing and playing the way they’ve been playing, they will go an awfully long way down the stretch and into the post-season.

 

At press time the Yankees sport the best record in baseball at 69-42. Last year they were 61-50 after 111 games, so as you can see by that statistic, they have greatly improved since 2008.

 

Yet they have to continue to play hard throughout the rest of the season. They will see division rivals Boston and Baltimore six more times this year, Tampa Bay seven more times, and Toronto nine more times, beginning a three-game set with them tonight.

 

They’ll also have to face the likes of the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Kansas City Royals along the way.

 

If any team can do it, it’s the Yankees. In their last 41 games they have gone an absolutely ridiculous 31-10. The Yankees are showing that they are for real.  

 

Well, that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. Join me next week for more topics, highlights, and analysis.

 

Until then, Go Yankees!

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