Results tagged ‘ Rancho Cucamonga Quakes ’

The Playoff Picture


Ryan Brasier pitched eight shutout innings Tuesday as the Quakes won 2-1 over High Desert. Brasier struck out seven, walked one, and gave up just three hits.

 

Still alive!

Ryan Brasier pitched what might be the game of his life to lead the Quakes to a 2-1 win over High Desert. The win evened their best-of-five series 2-2, with the deciding game tonight in Adelanto.

A sixth-round pick out of Weatherford (TX) Junior College in the June 2007 draft, Brasier was a reliever his entire professional career until June 30, when he was moved into the Quakes’ starting rotation. Ryan’s numbers with Rancho this year have been unimpressive — 5.23 ERA overall, 4.45 as a reliever, 5.56 as a starter — but his performance last night was as improbable as the Quakes’ survival in the post-season. Brasier pitched eight shutout innings, struck out seven, walked one and gave up just three hits.

The Mavericks were 83-57 overall in 2009. They won both halves of the California League’s South Division season. The Quakes were 61-79. Rancho shouldn’t have got this far, but they upset Lake Elsinore (73-67) in their best-of-three playoff series, and now they stand one game away from the pennant series. In the north, Bakersfield (75-65) is at San Jose (93-47) for Game #5 tonight.

Manuel Flores is the announced starter for the Quakes. He spent most of 2009 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, where he was 7-4 with a 3.59 ERA in 120.1 innings. In six starts with Rancho, he was 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 33.1 IP. He’ll face Donnie Hume, 17-5 with a 4.81 ERA in 151.2 IP for the Mavericks.

Winner take all.

Let’s not overlook the Orem Owlz. They begin their best-of-three series tonight against the Missoula Osprey for the Pioneer League pennant. Pat Corbin is the announced starter for the Owlz, according to OremOwlz.com. Game #1 is tonight in Orem, then the teams are off Thursday to bus to Missoula for Game #2 and (if necessary) #3.

The Playoff Picture

Down 2-0 in their best-of-five series with High Desert, and down 6-2 at the stretch half of the 7th inning in Game #3, the Quakes posted a run in the bottom frame thanks to Alberto Rosario’s solo homer, then three runs to tie in the bottom of the 9th, and finally scored in the bottom of the 10th to win 7-6. Game #4 is tonight at Rancho Cucamonga; Ryan Brasier is the scheduled starter.

Will Smith was a big-game pitcher in 2008 with the Orem Owlz, and he delivered a big-game performance last night for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, but it wasn’t enough as the Burlington Bees won 2-1 to eliminate the Men of Corn. Will gave up a broken-bat single in the 1st followed by a two-run homer off his changeup, then settled down to allow no more runs through the 8th when he exited the game. He struck out nine, walked five, and allowed only three hits — just one after the 1st-inning dinger.

The Orem Owlz are off until Wednesday, when they host Game #1 of the Pioneer League best-of-three pennant series at Orem. They’ll face the Missoula Osprey, a Diamondbacks affiliate. Missoula’s overall record was 40-36. Because of the short series, only one game is in Orem, then Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 are in Missoula. The divisions alternate by year who gets the home field advantage, and in 2009 it’s the North Division’s turn, so whomever wins the series celebrates in Missoula. The Owlz were 7-0 this year against Missoula, but that means nothing in the post-season.

The Playoff Picture

The Orem Owlz won 7-4 at Ogden Sunday to win the Pioneer League South Division series 2-0. They await the winner of the Great Falls-Missoula series. The Pioneer League alternates which division gets the home field advantage. This year it’s the North Division, so Orem hosts Game #1 before going on the road up north for Games #2 and (if necessary) #3.

The Kernels won 4-1 over Burlington to tie their best-of-three series 1-1. The Game #3 finale is tonight at Cedar Rapids. Iowans, turn out and support your team! The winner goes on to face the winner of the Great Lakes-Fort Wayne series, Dodgers and Padres affiliates.

The Quakes were shut out for the second straight night, 4-0 at High Desert. They trail their best-of-five series 2-0. Game #3 is tonight at Rancho Cucamonga. If the Quakes survive, Game #4 is at Rancho and Game #5 in High Desert. Quakes fans, turn out tonight!

The Playoff Picture


Jeremy Moore tripled with one out in the top of the 9th, and scored on Jay Brossman’s single, to give the Quakes the lead run Thursday and an eventual 3-0 win at Lake Elsinore.

 

The last will be first, and the first will be last.

– Matthew 20:16

Unlikely upsets last night have two Angels affiliates moving up to the next round of their leagues’ playoffs.

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes finished 2009 with an overall record of 61-79, the worst ever in California League history for a team that qualified for the post-season. They faced Lake Elsinore (73-67) in a best-of-three series between the South Division’s two wild-card teams, while High Desert (who won both halves of the season) got a bye.

The Storm got the home field advantage, which meant Games #2 and #3 would be at The Diamond. The Quakes hosted Game #1 at The Epicenter on Wednesday and won 6-5, forcing Lake Elsinore to win both remaining games at home. But Manuel Flores pitched seven shutout innings last night, the Quakes scored three runs in the top of the 9th led by a Jeremy Moore triple, and the Storm lost 3-0 to be eliminated.

The Quakes advance to a best-of-five series against the Mavericks (83-57) which starts Saturday in High Desert. Games #1 and #2 are in Adelanto, #3 and #4 in Rancho on Monday and Tuesday, and #5 in High Desert. Of course, #4 and #5 are only if necessary.

It’s the first time a Quakes team has advanced in the playoffs since becoming an Angels affiliate for the 2001 season. It’s also the first time an Angels affiliate has advanced since they were affiliated with Lake Elsinore in 1996, when they went on to an improbable California League pennant. The Storm that year were 35-35 in the first half to finish third in the South Division, and in the second half were 40-30 to finish second. They were the division’s wild card and faced Rancho Cucamonga in a best-of-three series similar to this week’s pairing. The Storm took that series, no big upset as the Quakes were only 31-39 in the second half. But Lake Elsinore went on to knock off High Desert (41-29 in the second half) for the South Division title. They then faced the San Jose Giants, who had won both halves of the North Division with an overall 89-51 record. The Storm upset San Jose three games to two to win the pennant.

That also happens to be the only ring I have from a pennant winner. The Storm allowed certain fans who’d helped the team to order replica rings personalized with their names. So I have a Storm 1996 pennant ring in the drawer.

It wasn’t that much of an upset, because the teams were more evenly matched, but the Cedar Rapids Kernels (78-60 overall) eliminated the Peoria Chiefs (81-57 overall) last night at Veterans Memorial Stadium, to win their best-of-three series 2-0. Peoria was 43-26 in the second half, the Kernels 38-30. C.R. was only 18-17 in August-September while Peoria was red-hot at 25-11.  Head-to-head, the Chiefs beat the Kernels eight games to three this year.  But the Kernels won 6-4 Wednesday at Peoria, then last night fought back from an early 4-0 deficit to win 9-8.

It was literally a “walk-off” win, pushing across two runs in the bottom of the 9th. The Kernels drew four walks to force in one run to tie the game at 8-8, then Matt Crawford was hit by a pitch to force in Dwayne Bailey with the winning run.

The Kernels move on to face the Burlington Bees (64-75 overall), who upset Kane County (76-64 overall) in their best-of-three series. The three-game series begins Saturday at Burlington, with Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 at The Vet.

Not to be overlooked are Tom Kotchman’s Orem Owlz. Their 4-3 win last night against rival Ogden gave them a 31-6 record in the second half, a Pioneer League record for best second-half record. The Owlz finish their regular season tonight at Ogden, then face the Raptors in a best-of-three series for the South Division title. Game #1 is Saturday at Orem, with Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 in Ogden.

The Playoff Picture

Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Well, it’s over.

Salt Lake and Arkansas have been eliminated from post-season contention, and finish their regular season schedules today.

Rancho Cucamonga and Cedar Rapids also finish their regular season schedules today, but they’re going to the post-season.

Despite a poor year, the Quakes are in the post-season due to how the California League playoff system works. High Desert won both halves of the South Division, so the second- and third-best teams by overall winning percentage play in a best-of-three series while the Mavericks get a bye. So the Quakes (61-78) will host the Storm (73-66) on Wednesday, with Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 Thursday and Friday at Lake Elsinore.

The Kernels (77-60) play Peoria (80-57) in a best-of-three series starting Wednesday at Peoria. Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 will be Thursday and Friday at Cedar Rapids. The Kernels get the home field advantage because they qualified in the first half but Peoria didn’t.

The Orem Owlz (47-24) play through Friday 9/11, then begin their three-game series against Ogden (41-30) on Saturday 9/12 at Orem. Games #2 and (if necessary) #3 are Sunday and Monday at Ogden, which won the first half title.

The Tempe Angels (38-18) qualified for the playoffs but lost to the Scottsdale Giants (39-17) in the Arizona League playoffs.

The Playoff Picture (Through August 30)

Here’s an update on where each affiliate stands in their pursuit of the post-season.

Salt Lake — The Pacific Coast League is a full-season league, no split-season schedule, so the Bees must win their division outright to qualify for the playoffs. I’d given them up for dead when they lost three straight August 24-26, but they just beat division leader Colorado Springs three straight to move within 4½ of first place. The Bees are 65-69, the Sky Sox are 69-64. Tacoma (69-66) is in second place, one game behind Colorado Springs. The Bees have nine games left, including today’s game at Colorado Springs and then four on the road at Tacoma. They ain’t dead yet.

Arkansas — The Travelers finished 28-42 in the first half, ten games behind Springfield in the Texas League North Division. They’re currently 28-33 in the second half, five games behind Northwest Arkansas (33-28). Tulsa (32-29) trails Northwest Arkansas by a game. The Travs and Springfield are tied at 28-33. They have nine games left on the schedule — two against Springfield, then four at home at Northwest Arkansas, and finally three on the road at Springfield. The Travs remain on the periphery with a little more than a week to go; if they go off on a hot streak they still have a chance.

Rancho Cucamonga — The Quakes finished 30-40 in the first half, 13 games behind South Division first-half winner High Desert. The California League has rather unusual post-season eligibility rules. The first-half winner in each division get a bye, while the second-half winner faces the team with the next best overall record in a best-of-three series. If High Desert wins both halves, then the teams with the second and third best records will face each other. In the second half, the Quakes are 29-33, six games behind the Mavericks (35-27). They’ve won three of their last four but lost power-hitter Matt Sweeney in the Scott Kazmir trade. They’re currently two games behind Lake Elsinore (31-31) and two games ahead of Lancaster (27-35). In the overall standings, after the Mavs the Storm (70-62) have clinched the second-best record so the Quakes (59-73) must finish third overall to qualify for the wild card. They currently have a two-game lead over Inland Empire (57-75) with eight games to go, none of them against division opponents. To make it simple, the Quakes have to hold that third-place lead through the rest of the regular season to make the playoffs.

Cedar Rapids — The Kernels finished 40-30 in the first half, good enough for second place one game behind Kane County, so under Midwest League rules they’re in. They’ll face the Peoria Chiefs in the first round of the West Division playoffs.

Orem — Tom Kotchman does it again. The Owlz’ 20-18 first half record in the Pioneer League’s South Division was only good enough for third place, so they need to win the division outright in the second half. As Kotch teams almost always do, they kicked into high gear in the second half for a 22-3 record so far and a seven-game lead over Idaho Falls (15-10). Rival Ogden won the first half. The Owlz have 13 games left in the second half, so short of a total collapse they’re going to the post-season. Garrett Richards continues to emerge as the staff ace, striking out eight and walking none in eight shutout innings last night at Idaho Falls.

Tempe — The Tempe Angels beat the Scottsdale Giants 1-0 last night in 12 innings in their regular season finale, to finish in a 20-8 first-place tie with the Giants. They meet tonight at 7:00 PM MDT at Scottsdale for a one-game playoff to determine the East Division champion. The winner goes on to play the West Division champion Peoria Mariners on Monday for the Arizona League title. Tempe’s overall record for the season was 38-18, one game behind Scottsdale (39-17).

It’s Official: Scott Kazmir to the Angels for Alex Torres, Matt Sweeney and PTBNL

The Angels traded Alex Torres (left) and Matt Sweeney to Tampa Bay on Friday for pitcher Scott Kazmir. A third Angels player is to be named.

 

Once the Rays’ game in Detroit ended last night, the rumored trade was officially announced. The Angels acquired LHP Scott Kazmir from Tampa Bay in exchange for Arkansas Travelers’ LHP Alex Torres, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ third baseman Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named later (PTBNL).

The trade was originally announced on AngelsBaseball.com as just Torres and Sweeney, but then that press release was deleted and replaced by one which said that the trade fell through. Mark Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times wrote that “The leak from the Angels’ side enraged Rays officials and nearly led them to call it off because it aborted their protocol of notifying their player first.”

There’s no doubt that Kazmir has issues. I wrote on May 10 that the critics who bashed the Angels for selecting Joe Saunders over Kazmir in June 2002 had been proven wrong. Since then, Saunders has struggled but we learned that it was due to shoulder tightness which has been apparently corrected by a stint on the disabled list and a cortisone shot. Kazmir, however, has had ongoing battles with mechanical problems that have led to repeated DL visits.

Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune published an article today that calls Kazmir “the Ace Who Never Was.” Fennelly couldn’t resist also taking a cheap shot, writing:

The word from Detroit is the Rays beat the space shuttle to the punch by launching Scott Kazmir into space. Well, not space, but a place just as spacey, the left coast, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they’re called.

Infantile insults aside, Kazmir at age 25 remains one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball. A rare left-hander with mid-90s velocity and a wicked slider, his best seasons were during and after Mike Butcher worked with him in Tampa. Butcher was a long-time Angels minor league pitching coach who was hired by Joe Maddon to be the Devil Rays’ pitching coach in 2006. When Bud Black left to manage the Padres, Mike Scioscia brought home Butch to become the Angels’ major league pitching coach. Kazmir’s best ERA year was 2006 at 3.24, and in 2007 it was 3.48. Reuniting Kazmir with Butcher might solve whatever problems are going through his young head.

As for what the Angels gave up … You can read about Torres and Sweeney in the many articles published this morning on various newspaper sites, as listed on FutureAngels.com. Torres is about the same in physical build as Kazmir, although he lists as about two inches shorter (5’10”). He put himself on the prospect radar this year, although you won’t find many star left-handed pitchers of his stature in the big leagues. As for Sweeney, he was always a potential power hitter but he missed all of 2008 with a leg injury and part of 2009 with a hip injury, and his defense has always been suspect.

When the trade was “unannounced,” rumors abounded that a PTBNL had been added to the deal. Normally a PTBNL is chosen later from a list of players agreed upon at the time of the trade, but it appears in this case that the player’s name is already known. Topkin wrote, “The one not named is considered closer to the majors and someone Maddon, a former Angels coach, called “a very interesting player that I’m very excited about.”

HalosHeaven.com claims it’s Jordan Walden, based on Walden not appearing on the Arkansas Travelers’ roster. But Walden hasn’t been on that roster for weeks. He’s been on the Tempe Angels’ roster since August 16 while on rehab assignment for a recurring forearm injury. The Tempe rosters are on FutureAngels.com.

Flawed logic aside, if the player is already known but hasn’t been announced it could be for several reasons. MLB rules prohibit trading a player while he’s on the disabled list, unless the player approves. Another rule prohibits trading a player within the first year after he signs. Topkin says it’s someone closer to the majors than Torres or Sweeney.

If I were the Rays, I’d be asking for Trevor Reckling, Will Smith or Ryan Chaffee. None of those, however, are disabled, so there’s no reason not to include them now in the trade. So it could be Walden despite the flawed reasoning of the HalosHeaven.com post. It could also be a position player pending some other transaction.

When I originally heard it was just Torres and Sweeney, I thought the Angels were getting off cheaply. But as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for,” and Kazmir is worth more than those two. When the other cleat drops, we may think twice about this deal.


UPDATE August 29, 2009 4:45 PM PDT — In discussing the PTBNL with someone on the Angels MLB.com board, we realized that the PTBNL could be someone on the 40-man roster who isn’t on the 25-man roster. That opens a new list of possible names. Among those are Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Brown, Terry Evans, Sean O’Sullivan, and more. They also include two major league pitchers on the disabled list, Scot Shields and Dustin Moseley. These players would have to pass through waivers first, which could explain the delay.

If you’re looking for clues, it was pointed out that Matt Brown didn’t play the last two nights for Salt Lake. You’d think that the Rays wouldn’t want to risk an injury to a future employee by letting him play while he passes through waivers.

What if the player is claimed on waivers by another team? That would complicate matters. It would seem likely that the Angels and Rays would have a “backup” list if that happens. Or they could simply wait until season’s end when waivers are no longer required and then complete the transaction.

Report: Angels About to Acquire Scott Kazmir from Rays for Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney

Multiple media outlets report a trade about to happen between the Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Angels would acquire 25-year old LHP Scott Kazmir from the Rays for Arkansas LHP Alex Torres and Rancho Cucamonga 3B Matt Sweeney.

The Los Angeles Times reported the trade, then MLB.com reported the trade fell through, and now the St. Petersburg Times says the trade may still happen but the hangup may be the Rays wanting a third minor leaguer to be named later.

Updates when available.

The Playoff Picture (August 24)

I wrote on August 18 a review of where each Angels minor league affiliate stands in the pursuit of the post-season. I’ll update this each week until the regular season ends.

Salt Lake — The Pacific Coast League is a full-season league, no split-season schedule, so the Bees must win their division outright to qualify for the playoffs. The Bees are currently 62-66 and trail Colorado Springs by six games with 15 games left, including five at Colorado Springs August 26-30. Tacoma is now a half-game ahead of the Bees; Salt Lake is at Tacoma August 31-September 3.

Arkansas — The Travelers finished 28-42 in the first half, ten games behind Springfield in the Texas League North Division. They’re currently 24-30 in the second half, 5½ games behind Tulsa. Northwest Arkansas trails Tulsa by a game. They have 16 games left on the schedule, including four August 25-28 at Tulsa and four at home September 1-4 against Northwest Arkansas. While it’s not impossible for the Travs to win the division, it’s rather unlikely unless they go off on a really hot winning streak, and they did shave two games off their deficit this last week.

Rancho Cucamonga — The Quakes finished 30-40 in the first half, 13 games behind High Desert in the South Division, which won the first half. The California League has rather unusual post-season eligibility rules. The first-half winner in each division get a bye, while the second-half winner faces the team with the next best overall record in a best-of-three series. If High Desert wins both halves, then the teams with the second and third best records will face each other. In the second half, the Quakes are 26-30, five games behind the Mavericks. They had a poor week, going 1-5 to fall behind Lancaster (27-29) and tie with Lake Elsinore (26-30). In the overall standings, after the Mavs it’s Lake Elsinore (65-61) with a nine-game lead over the Quakes (56-70), and then Inland Empire (53-73) and Lancaster (53-73) three games behind the Quakes. At this point, with fourteen games left, it looks like Rancho’s best bet is to finish third in the overall standings and make the playoffs as a wild card. One oddity in their schedule is that they end the regular season on the road in the North Division for seven games, so their ability to knock off rivals down the stretch will be limited. Clear as mud?

Cedar Rapids — The Kernels finished 40-30 in the first half, good enough for second place one game behind Kane County, so under Midwest League rules they’re in. It’s way too early to say who’ll they’ll face in the first round of the West Division playoffs. In the second half, the Kernels are 30-26 with an overall record of 70-56, second-best in the division behind 72-52 Peoria.


UPDATE August 25, 2009 — According to Jeff Johnson at the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Kernels will probably face Peoria in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs.


Orem — Tom Kotchman does it again. The Owlz’ 20-18 first half record in the Pioneer League’s South Division was only good enough for third place, so they need to win the division outright in the second half. They ran off a fifteen-game winning streak and now have an 18-2 record with a six-game lead over Idaho Falls. Rival Ogden won the first half. The Owlz have 18 games left in the second half, so short of a total collapse they’re going to the post-season. One big factor is that Kotch’s top starting pitcher prospects are stretching out their innings, with Garrett Richards perhaps emerging as the staff ace.

Tempe — The Tempe Angels have been great, but the Scottsdale Giants have been greater. Scottsdale won the Arizona League’s East Division in the first half by one game over Tempe, which finished 18-10. In the second half, Tempe is 16-7 but trails Scottsdale (18-5) by two games with five games left. If Scottsdale wins both halves, they get a bye and the Angels are out. Tempe can help themselves by beating the Giants in the two games they have against each other, starting tonight at Scottsdale. If the Angels don’t win tonight, it’s pretty much over. If they end up tied in the second half, then to go to the playoffs the Angels would need to have won the head-to-head series this season against the Giants. The Angels lead that series 4-3, so if they can knock off the Giants in both games then they’ve looking pretty good. But they really need to win tonight.

The Playoff Picture

With about three weeks left to go in the minor league seasons, here’s the playoff picture for each of the Angels affiliates.

Salt Lake — The Pacific Coast League is a full-season league, no split-season schedule, so the Bees must win their division outright to qualify for the playoffs. The Bees are currently 59-64 and trail Colorado Springs by 5½ games with 21 games left, including five at Colorado Springs August 26-30.

Arkansas — The Travelers finished 28-42 in the first half, ten games behind Springfield in the Texas League North Division. They’re currently 21-28 in the second half, 7½ games behind Northwest Arkansas. They have 21 games left on the schedule, including four at home against Northwest Arkansas. They’d also have to leapfrog Tulsa, which is two games out of first; they have four games next week at Tulsa. While it’s not impossible for the Travs to win the division, it’s rather unlikely unless they go off on a really hot winning streak.

Rancho Cucamonga — The Quakes finished 30-40 in the first half, 13 games behind High Desert in the South Division. In the second half, the Quakes are 25-25 and only one game behind the Mavericks. The California League has rather unusual post-season eligibility rules. The first-half winner in each division get a bye, while the second-half winner faces the team with the next best overall record in a best-of-three series. If High Desert wins both halves, then the teams with the second and third best records will face each other. If the Quakes win the South Division in the second half, they would face the team with the next best overall record, which would currently be Lake Elsinore at 61-59 (followed by the Quakes at 55-65). If High Desert wins the second half, again the I-15 rivals would face each other. Rancho has 20 games left, and three other teams are within four games of them in the second-half standings, so for now it’s anybody’s race.

Cedar Rapids — The Kernels finished 40-30 in the first half, good enough for second place one game behind Kane County, so under Midwest League rules they’re in. It’s way too early to say who’ll they’ll face in the first round of the West Division playoffs. In the second half, the Kernels are 27-24 with an overall record of 67-54, second-best in the division behind 68-51 Peoria.

Orem — What would the post-season be without Tom Kotchman? The Owlz’ 20-18 first half record in the Pioneer League’s South Division was only good enough for third place, so they need to win the division outright in the second half. That’s what they’re doing, as they’ve won eleven straight to post a 12-1 record and a 4½ game lead over Idaho Falls. Rival Ogden won the first half. The Owlz have 25 games left in the second half, with three at Idaho Falls on August 28-30, so it’s a bit early to declare them the second-half winner. But given Kotch’s track record, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Tempe — The Tempe Angels have been great, but the Scottsdale Giants have been greater. Scottsdale won the Arizona League’s East Division in the first half by one game over Tempe, which finished 18-10. In the second half, Tempe is 13-6 but trails Scottsdale by 2½ games. With two teams added to the AZL this year, divisional playoffs are new so it’s unclear to me what happens if the same team wins both halves. Let’s assume the team with the next best record goes to the first-round playoff for the division title. In that scenario, the Giants at 34-12 are 3½ games ahead of the 31-16 Angels, and the 27-20 Mesa Cubs trail the Angels by four games. Tempe has nine games left in the regular season, so their post-season chances look pretty good. They have two games left with the Giants, at Scottsdale on August 24 and at Tempe to close the season on August 29.


UPDATE August 19, 2009 1:00 PM PDT — Per the Angels staff in Tempe, if Scottsdale wins both halves of the AZL East Division then they get a bye in the first round, so Tempe has to win the second half to go to the post-season. Tempe is currently three games behind Scottsdale with nine games to go, including two with the Giants.

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