Results tagged ‘ Miami Marlins ’

A Storybook Beginning

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None of us know how this season will end. That would, after all, defeat the purpose of the six-month odyssey that lays before us: the highs and lows, anticipation, frustration, elation, and satisfaction that only a baseball season can bring. But on Monday, we at least learned how this story would start.

And it was hard to imagine a more perfect beginning.

Bryce Harper made the most of his first Opening Day.

Bryce Harper made the most of his first Opening Day.

Bryce Harper’s first swing of the season connected with a hanging curveball out of Ricky Nolasco’s hand, soared 400 feet through the Washington spring air and landed in the right field bleachers. In his second at-bat, Harper punished another Nolasco breaking ball, depositing it within 50 feet of his original blast. Two at-bats, two home runs for the defending Rookie of the Year. He couldn’t have scripted a better beginning to his sophomore season.

Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg allowed a single to start the game, then set down the next 19 Marlins batters, mostly on a combination of weak groundouts and lazy fly balls. He was not the overwhelming, 14-strikeout Strasburg of his 2010 debut, but he was just as dominant, allowing only three hits over seven scoreless frames.

Tyler Clippard fired a scoreless eighth and newly-acquired Rafael Soriano came on for his first save opportunity in the ninth, with Harper’s two runs of offense still representing the game’s only scoring to that point. Soriano rang up the Marlins 1-2-3 hitters with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth, freezing Miami star Giancarlo Stanton for strike three to put the first Curly W of 2013 in the books.

As we all catch our breath Tuesday, the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day fading into our rear-view mirror, we know not every day will like the first this season. But if the first taste of the season is a harbinger of anything to come, Nationals fans have plenty to be excited about this season.

What to Watch for: 4.1.13

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Miami Marlins (0-0) vs. Washington Nationals (0-0)

RHP Ricky Nolasco (0-0) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-0)

The defending National League East Champion Washington Nationals open the 2013 season today with a three-game set against division rival Miami in The District. This season marks the ninth since the return of baseball to Washington and the sixth played at Nationals Park.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Strasburg RHP

OPENING DAY STRASBURG

For the second year in a row, Stephen Strasburg will toe the rubber on Opening Day for Washington. Last year, Strasburg fired 7.0 innings of five-hit, one-run ball, walking one while striking out five at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. He did not factor in the decision, as the Nationals came from behind with a run in the eighth and another in the ninth for a season-opening, 2-1 victory.

NO APRIL FOOLS

The Nationals notched a 14-8 record in April last year, tying Atlanta and St. Louis for most victories in the National League in the opening month of the season. During that stretch, the pitching staff compiled a 2.33 team ERA, best in the Major Leagues.

FISH FRY

Washington and Miami split their 18 games against one another 9-9 last season, but the Nationals took six of the nine meetings in The District. On August 5, Stephen Strasburg beat Ricky Nolasco in a matchup of the same starters, and Drew Storen earned the save in a 4-1 Nationals victory.

Displays of Power

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The Nationals hit a trio of home runs on Saturday to lead them to an 8-7 victory over the Miami Marlins. All three were hit authoritatively, each no-doubters even without the steady breeze blowing out to right field, but each meant something different to the player who hit them.

With Washington trailing 6-4, Bryce Harper fell into an 0-2 hole against lefty Brad Hand leading off the bottom of the fifth. But he beat the lefty, driving a towering shot over the raised row of billboards behind the outfield wall at Space Coast Stadium, just to the right of center field. Manager Davey Johnson was most impressed not by the clout itself, but off whom Harper blasted it.

“It was nice to see Harp hit the left-hander,” remarked Johnson of the 20-year-old, whose second roundtripper of the spring left him with a line of .462/.481/.846 at the end of the day.

Nationals fans in Viera hardly had time to sit back down before Ryan Zimmerman joined the party, taking another offering from the hand of Hand to nearly the exact same spot as Harper’s ball for his first homer of the spring. Coming off offseason shoulder surgery, both Johnson and Zimmerman insisted it was no surprise to see the face of the franchise’s batting stroke in midseason form, but that it was nice to actually see the results on the field.

“It’s always good to get a couple and start driving the ball to get some confidence,” said Zimmerman of his blast.

Zimmerman, who had only served as DH so far this spring, also had encouraging news about his throwing program, as he fully strengthens his shoulder before returning to third base.

“I don’t really have to count anymore,” he said of his practice throws across the infield. “I just go until I’m tired, then throw a few more to build off of it, and shut it down. But it feels good, I mean everything’s fine. The routine plays are fine, it’s just the ones where I have to rush and I’m not able to set my feet. My arm’s not quite strong enough to do that yet.”

The final home run of the day proved to be the game-winner, crushed off the bat of Zach Walters to break a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the eighth. It was the second home run in as many days for the young infield prospect, who has made major strides off the field in his first big league camp.

“He’s made some adjustments with (hitting coach) Rick Eckstein,” explained Johnson of the 23-year-old, who joins Harper and Anthony Rendon as the lone Nationals with multiple home runs so far this spring. “He’s learning more about who he can be and playing to his ability.”

Johnson also indicated that Walters would probably be one of the final cuts from camp, meaning that fans will get more chances to see what the young switch-hitter is capable of.

The Nationals are in Lakeland to take on the Tigers Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Check out today’s lineup and a full list of Spring Training results to date below.

Nationals Lineup

1. Brown RF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Harper CF

4. Ramos C

5. Moore LF

6. Tracy DH

7. Marrero 1B

8. Skole 3B

9. Rendon SS

P. Haren

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1

2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4

3/1 @ Atlanta – W, 6-5

3/2 @ St. Louis – W, 6-2

3/3 vs. St. Louis – W, 7-6

3/5 vs. Houston – W, 7-1

3/6 @ Philadelphia – L, 6-3

3/7 @ Houston – L, 4-2

3/8 vs. Cardinals – L, 16-10

3/9 vs. Marlins – W, 8-7

Overall Record: 6-6-2

First Taste of Atlanta

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The Nationals traveled to Lake Buena Vista Tuesday afternoon, where they were greeted with their second rain delay in the opening four days of the Spring Training slate, and their first look at what largely resembled a real Opening Day lineup.

The host Braves started five or six regulars (depending on your analysis of their third base situation), including both Upton brothers, Freddie Freeman, Jayson Heyward and Dan Uggla against Washington starter Ross Detwiler. The even-keeled lefty took the challenge in stride in what was also his first outing in the Grapefruit League this year.

Ross Detwiler showed an impressive breaking ball in his first spring start.

Ross Detwiler showed an impressive breaking ball in his first spring start.

“You saw the lineup they put out there today,” he said, referencing Atlanta’s projected regulars, most middle-of-the-order types. “I could have gotten embarrassed pretty easily.”

Detwiler more than held his own however, looking very sharp through two frames before allowing a single run in the third. He didn’t allow a single extra-base hit, but perhaps the most impressive part of his outing was his breaking ball, which he located for strikes with great movement.

“It’s coming along a little bit,” he said, modestly, of his hook.

That’s an understatement, considering how much Detwiler relied on his two fastballs last year. He used three effective breaking balls to neutralize one of the National League’s better left-handed hitters in Heyward over a pair of at-bats on Tuesday, striking him out looking on a front door bender in the first inning.

“He’s got a lot of weapons,” said manager Davey Johnson of his developing southpaw’s expanding repertoire. “[That] makes the fastball that much better.”

When asked if the outing would help prepare him for the competitive outing Detwiler is slated to encounter in the World Baseball Classic, the 26-year-old’s response served to foreshadow the type of intensity the Washington-Atlanta rivalry may well have this year.

“I just played a competitive game,” he deadpanned.

Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and newcomer Dan Haren get their first starts of the spring Wednesday.

Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and newcomer Dan Haren get their first starts of the spring Wednesday.

Never one to ease into things, Detwiler’s most supportive teammate in the lineup was Bryce Harper, who continued his hot start to the spring. The young slugger legged out a chopper over Freeman at first for a double, swatted a Mike Minor offering to the opposite field gap for another two-bagger, and finished his afternoon with a rocket off Freeman’s mitt for a single. His 3-for-3 afternoon left him hitting (small sample size alert) .750 for the spring. Harper kept the gaudy numbers in their proper perspective, though.

“Facing Minor during the season and facing him right now is a little different,” he said of the Braves starter, who was also throwing in live action for the first time. “I don’t want to say I’m relaxed or comfortable, because I never want to be that way.”

Just because others are easing into the first days of the schedule doesn’t mean Harper is. He already lobbied his way into the lineup Wednesday afternoon, which will be his first chance to play with both Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche this year.
“I’d like to get in that lineup every day, pretty much,” he said, and Johnson was persuaded to agree.

The Nationals take on Miami in Viera at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday afternoon as Dan Haren makes his first start in a Washington uniform. See below for today’s lineup, along with spring results to date.

Nationals 2/27 Lineup:

1. Span CF

2. Harper LF

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Tracy 3B

6. Espinosa DH

7. Suzuki C

8. Lombo 2B

9. Walters SS

P. Haren

Record: 1-2-1

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

Weekly Review: National News

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Monday of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day action, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

The Racing Presidents arrived at Mt. Rushmore on Presidents Day, concluding “Bill and Teddy’s Executive Adventure.” Washington learned that it will have another member of The District’s Nine represent Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, as Ross Detwiler was invited to join the squad. Meanwhile, back in Viera, we introduced you to a trio of new faces to keep an eye on in camp as Nationals wrapped up the final days of practice before the Grapefruit League schedule began in earnest.

On Saturday, Washington opened its slate on the road in Port St. Lucie against the Mets. Stephen Strasburg took a Zen approach to his first two innings of work, and Bryce Harper collected the team’s first hit of the spring. On Sunday, the Nationals hosted their home opener against the Marlins at Space Coast Stadium, a contest that featured the strength of their top prospect, along with a rain delay, an extra inning, and a tie.

Weekly Record: 0-1-1

Overall Record: 0-1-1

Top Prospecting

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Top Nationals prospect Anthony Rendon showed impressive gap-to-gap power last spring in Viera, but hit just six home runs over 133 at-bats in an injury-plagued 2012.. Since his arrival in camp this year, though, the ball has been jumping off Rendon’s bat more, as was evidenced by a home run he hit in batting practice prior to Sunday’s contest at Space Coast Stadium– a moonshot that that ricocheted off the base of the scoreboard, a solid 40-50 feet up the berm behind the left field wall. Just a few hours later, he showcased that power again, off a legitimate Major League reliever in Miami’s Ryan Webb.

With the wind blowing out to left in the fifth inning – following a rain delay of over an hour – Rendon hit an opposite-field shot out to right-center field, plating Steve Lombardozzi to give Washington a 2-1 lead. It was the only run-scoring hit of the day for either team, as both Marlins tallies came via RBI-groundouts in the top of the third and ninth in a 2-2, 10-inning draw.

Rendon's two-run blast accounted for all of Washington's scoring Sunday.

Rendon’s two-run blast accounted for all of Washington’s scoring Sunday.

Rendon was the only member of the Nationals starting lineup not to be pulled during the delay, as both he and manager Davey Johnson wanted the young prospect to have another opportunity at the plate.

“I told him I wanted him to have one more at-bat and he said ‘I want one more at-bat,’” explained the skipper. “He certainly made it count.”

Johnson went on to stress that Rendon is all-but Major League ready, needing just repetitions and an opening on the roster to play in Washington.

Injuries have sidetracked what appeared to be an express lane path to the Major Leagues for Rendon. The Rice University product broke his ankle in just the second game of the season last year, costing him the first half of his year. After rehab, he became the most well-traveled man in the system, making stops with the GCL Nationals, Short-Season Auburn, High-A Potomac, and Double-A Harrisburg, finally culminating his campaign with an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League.

Davey Johnson says all Rendon needs is repetitions and a chance to play.

Davey Johnson says all Rendon needs is repetitions and a chance to play.

Entering the season as the top-rated prospect in the system according to Baseball America, MLB.com and every other major outlet assigned to such rankings, the pieces are finally coming together for the 22-year-old considered by many to have the top bat in the 2011 Draft.

“I’ve had the same approach for a while now, I guess it’s just clicking,” said Rendon of his health and his improved power, especially to the opposite field. “That’s a good thing.”

Yes, yes it is.

The Nationals travel back to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets for the second time in three days tonight at 6:10 p.m., and will once again be televised live on MLB Network. Gio Gonzalez is scheduled to make his first start of the year for the Nats, who are searching for their first Grapefruit League victory.

Here are Washington’s spring results to date:

Record: 0-1-1

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

Power In Numbers

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It’s hard to believe, with the season the Washington Nationals have had, that they have not had more walk-off home runs. Other types of walk-offs have come in nearly every shape and form, from singles, to wild pitches, to sacrifice flies. But Ian Desmond’s two-out, two-run shot to beat the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth on May 2, more than five months ago, a seemingly distant memory, was the lone game-winning blast of this memorable 2012 campaign.

Until last night.

Jayson Werth’s walk-off extended the Nationals season.

If you believe in the cosmic powers of the game, the baseball gods, as it were, this one was foreshadowed. Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game on 10.11.12, Jayson Werth worked an epic at-bat against Lance Lynn, driving the 13th pitch into the visitor’s bullpen at Nationals Park for his 14th career postseason home run. But the bizarre parallels go beyond that sequential string of numbers alone.

On September 8, the Nationals trailed the Miami Marlins by a score of 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth inning at home in D.C. With closer Heath Bell already throwing his warm-up pitches and Werth slated to lead off the frame, a torrential storm descended upon Nationals Park, sending fans scampering to seek shelter from the high winds and sheets of rain. The game went into a delay for more than two and-a-half hours, the dramatic bottom of the ninth put on ice. Finally, the weather cleared, the teams reemerged to the field, and Werth dug in against Bell. They battled through a long at-bat, Werth fouling off three pitches before finally working the count full.

Clippard NLDS Game 4

Tyler Clippard and the bullpen built momentum with eight strikeouts.

Less than 1,000 fans remained from the original crowd of 28,860, all descending behind the dugouts, standing, yelling, living and dying with every pitch. It had the feel of a high school playoff game, the drama and emotion running on high for those diehards that remained. Werth finally saw a center-cut fastball from Bell and smoked it to the Red Porch in left-center field for a game-tying home run. The Nationals would go on to win in walk-off fashion in the 10th inning.

Ross Detwiler also started that game, with Drew Storen earning the win following his and Tyler Clippard’s scoreless innings. Each reliever fanned the side in that September game. Clippard did so again Thursday night, with Storen punching out a pair.

The same momentum from the pitching in that September game grew in the late innings Thursday night. And once again, Werth delivered, on an at-bat five pitches longer and more surreal, a crowd of better than 44,000 already frenzied fans igniting like a supersonic jet engine as the ball cleared the left field wall.

Enjoy the full at-bat below, the six minutes of tension cut down to a tidy 2:47, to appreciate just how amazing it was. Then click below to listen to Nationals play-by-play man Charlie Slowes, who summoned the memories of that September 8 game before the 13th pitch, and the overwhelming crowd behind him as his prediction came true.

Slowes Calls Werth’s Walk-off

What to Watch For: 9/7

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Miami Marlins (61-77) vs. Washington Nationals (85-52)

RHP Jacob Turner (1-3, 7.33) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-6, 2.94)

Washington’s offensive barrage continued, as the Nationals completed a four-game sweep of the Cubs with a 9-2 victory, their fifth win in a row and their eight in the last nine games. Stephen Strasburg makes his final scheduled home start of the season as Washington opens a three-game set with the Marlins to conclude an 11-game homestand.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

ADAM BOMBS

While homering in a career-best four consecutive games, Adam LaRoche became just the sixth player in MLB history to homer in every game of a four-game series, including at least one multi-homer effort, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. LaRoche joins the following Hall-of-Famers in accomplishing the feat: Johnny Bench, Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Babe Ruth, Mike Schmidt.

STRAS

Stephen Strasburg faces his most frequent opponent tonight, the Miami Marlins. He is 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA in eight career starts against the Fish. By game’s end, he will have faced Miami nine times in 45 career starts (20%). In addition, he has worked 6.0 scoreless innings in five of eight career starts against the Marlins and has more wins (four) over Miami than any opponent.

FISH FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Ryan Zimmerman’s 16 career homers against the Marlins are tied with Atlanta for the most he’s hit against another club. The Nationals won their final two series at Sun Life Stadium, but went 0-2-1 in first three visits to Marlins Park. Via a 10-8 mark in ‘07, the Nationals/Expos franchise has won only one season series from the Marlins since ‘98. With a 3-1 win on September 28, 2011, Stephen Strasburg (win) and the Nationals helped end Florida’s tenure at Sun Life Stadium. Roger Bernadina recorded the final hit and RBI in the venue’s 19-year MLB history.

DATE IN D.C. BASEBALL

September 7, 1907 – Walter Johnson pitches the first of 110 career shutouts, blanking the host Boston Americans, 1-0, at Huntington Ave. Baseball Grounds.

September 7, 2007 – Less than three months after being selected sixth overall in the First-Year Player Draft, out of Missouri State, Ross Detwiler makes his MLB debut at ATL and becomes the first member of the 2007 draft class to appear in a big league contest. Detwiler struck out one (Willie Harris) in 1.0 scoreless inning, but Atlanta won the game, 7-1.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. MARLINS LIVE -

A Leader Down the Stretch

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All season long, the Nationals have been content to defer the spotlight. As Showtime selected the revamped division-rival Miami Marlins to feature in their reality series The Franchise, the Nationals quietly went about winning ballgames and building a lead in the National League East. With all the focus on the return of Stephen Strasburg, starter Jordan Zimmermann set out his slow and steady path towards a breakout year. And despite all the attention paid to Bryce Harper’s debut season, fellow rookies Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi have played their own, integral roles in the club’s success thus far.

Jackson seems to have only gotten stronger as the season has gone along.

And so, it is only fitting that Washington’s best pitcher of late has gone largely unnoticed, quietly dominating under the radar of the national spotlight. After his latest masterpiece – an eight-inning, 10-strikeout, 122-pitch performance against the same Cardinals team he helped to a World Series title last year – Edwin Jackson has emerged as one of the strongest arms in the rotation heading down the stretch. After struggling with his command in the middle of the season, Jackson has been more aggressive of late, throwing his mid-90s fastball, low-90s cutter and hard, diving slider for strikes.

“It’s just a matter of being comfortable with it at the end of the day,” Jackson said on Friday of his willingness to attack the zone the night before. “You just have to go out and pitch with confidence.”

Jackson has plenty to be confident about. After touching the double-digit strikeout plateau five times in his first nine years as a professional, he has achieved the feat in each of his last two home starts, mixing in eight K’s in the road start between them. All told, the right-hander has fanned 29 batters in his last 21.0 innings pitched, allowing only 13 hits over that span. In the month of August, during which he went just 2-3, he punched out 49 in a span of just 37.2 frames. He also eclipsed 100 pitches in all six of those outings, and has done so eight straight times he has toed the rubber for the Nats, proving his durability time and time again.

When Jackson throws all three of his pitches for strikes, as he did Thursday night, he is hard to beat.

In fact, after the Nationals dragged into extra innings against the Houston Astros on consecutive nights August 6 and 7, Jackson was made available to come out of the bullpen the next day, if need be. On August 20, as Washington battled into the 13th inning against Atlanta. With relief options already exhausted, Jackson trotted down to the bullpen to warm up for the top of the 14th, just over 48 hours after he threw 103 pitches against the New York Mets. On a team full of young players, he is setting the example, through his late-season play as much as his warrior mentality, of what it takes to be a champion. As for the credit, he leaves that for others to worry about.

“Whoever (the media) wants to put in the spotlight, that’s their prerogative,” he says. “As far as we’re concerned in here, on your day, everybody has to be a superstar. All we want to do is go win games any way we can.”

Jackson has shown his willingness to do just that – make sure the team wins by any means necessary. If the rest of the Nationals can follow his lead, it should be an exciting September and beyond.

Twice As Bryce

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The Nationals needed a spark. They needed something, or someone, to step forward and deliver a big hit to kick-start a struggling offense that had scored just six times in a five-game losing streak. Fittingly, they got it from a player aiming to right his own course this season, looking to finish the regular season strong.

Bryce Harper hit a pair of home runs Wednesday night to back Ross Detwiler and the bullpen in an 8-4 victory in Miami. His second home run (seen below) will be the one that most folks remember from the contest, as it made him just the third teenage center fielder ever to log a multi-home run performance, not to mention the fact that it drilled a seat in the sixth row of the upper deck in right-center field. But it was the rookie’s first dinger that opened the floodgates for the rest of the Nationals offense. After going 0-for-9 the first time through the lineup against Marlins rookie starter Jacob Turner, Harper’s blast (which followed a leadoff single by Jayson Werth) was the second hit in a string in which six of seven Nats hit safely.

During that sequence, Michael Morse scorched a ball that would have been a home run in nearly any other ballpark, settling for a triple. In all, six different Washington batters tallied multi-hit games, and catcher Kurt Suzuki checked in with his first home run in a Nationals uniform, padding the lead in the ninth inning. The offense finished the night with 14 hits, a needed jolt as the team gained a game back from the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Washington leads the division by 5.0 as they open an 11-game homestand with four games against the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night in D.C.

With 33 games remaining in the regular season, 21 of them right here on the shores of the Anacostia, it will be interesting to see which players step forward to carry the Nationals to the finish line. Adam LaRoche came up huge in April and May with much of the heart of the lineup injured. Ryan Zimmerman and Morse each went on tears in June and July to keep the team atop the division. And recently, Werth has been on fire since returning from his broken wrist to carry the load. With seven games against the Cardinals, three against the newly revamped Dodgers and three more with Atlanta still to play, Washington will need its big bats to step up once again. If Wednesday night was any indication, this team looks ready to get after it down the home stretch.

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