Going Back to Houston…

Some of you oldtimers will remember this:


They don’t make ’em like that anymore, but I digress.  The Dodgers are in Houston – hopefully for a sweep, but I’ll take 2 out of 3 and close it in LA.  Really, this has the look of a seven game series. Tonight is a very critical game.  The winning team will have momentum and that is important.

Tonight, Yu Darvish faces the Astros in Minute Maid Park.  He is 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in six starts at that ballpark. In five of those six outings, Darvish pitched at least seven innings, however he has “streamlined” his delivery and has somewhat of a different look. He is the perfect starter for the Dodgers in a series that is tied at 1-1.

Lance McCullers Jr. is the starting pitcher for the Astros and he has some incredible stuff… when he is on the field.  He has a lot of injury issues but appears to be healthy for this one. His fastball tops out at 96 and he has a great curve and a hard changeup to go with it.  He throws his curveball nearly 48% of the time. He will present a unique challenge to a team that loves low fastballs and don’t hit curveballs very well.

I am assuming that Joc Pederson will start in LF against the RHP and Utley will start at 2B, although I prefer Forsythe and either Grandal or Ethier will DH.  I have no preference.  If McCullers and Darvish are on, this could be a very, very low scoring game. Forsythe has more range at 2B and that could be important in a tight game.  Joc is a very good LF’er so Andre Ethier may get the call as a DH.  We shall see…

Dodger News

“No, nothing bittersweet about it,” said the Dodgers’ former general manager. “I applaud [president of baseball operations] Andrew Friedman, [general manager] Farhan Zaidi and [CEO] Stan Kasten. They took this team where I couldn’t get it.”

  • Ned is the Old Guard, this is the New Era of Baseball and it’s just done differently.  I enjoy Ned’s comments and hopefully he will stay with team team for a time.
  • So far, the Dodgers have lost Jeremy Zoll who is Minnesota’s Director of Minor League Operations and Matt Herges to the Giants as their bullpen coach.  It’s too bad they lost Zoll because he could have slipped into that same position with the Dodgers if Gabe Kapler takes a manager job… and he is in on a couple.

AFL News

  • Yusniel Diaz continues to hit – .367 BA/.429 OB%/.9o29 OPS
  • Will Smith is hitting .333/.378 OB%/.833 OPS
  • DJ Peters is at .190
  • Matt Beaty is floundering at .148
  • Issac Anderson 0.00 ERA/ 2.00 WHIP – 3 IP
  • Michael Boyle – 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and  0.69 WHIP – 4.1 IP
  • Andrew Sopko  3.48 ERA and 1.45 WHIP – 10.1 IP
  • Shea Spitzbarth – 7.20 ERA – 5.0 IP

Takeaways:  Diaz, Smith and Boyle are progressing well. Hopefully, the others are learning – the stats don’t always tell the tale.  This is a league for continual learning and improvement.

This article has 84 Comments

  1. Mark, I wrote this after game one, but I didn’t get any response probably because it’s a load of nonsense, or possibly because a new thread started.

    I’m not so sure we are gonna see Wood in game 4 if we happen to lose the next two.
    I see Kershaw starting game 4 on 4 days rest if we are behind, and potentially starting a game 7 on 4 days rest, especially if, like last night, he only throws 80 pitches.
    We can also line Darvish up to start game 6 on 4 days rest if need be.
    McCarthy may be there for long relief in either case.
    I’m not sure FAZ are convinced about Wood’s health – although they will definitely let him start game 4 if we have a lead, with McCarthy in the wings just in case. If we are behind I’m not sure they start him.

    So two days later, I’m more convinced that if we lose tonight, then we will see Kershaw tomorrow on 4 days rest having only thrown 80 pitches last time out.
    In theory, we would then know we will get at least a game 6 at Dodger Stadium, which could be started by Darvish on 4 days rest (see how many pitches tonight?), followed by Kershaw again on 4 days rest.
    Game 4 Sunday could be started by Hill who only threw 5 innings on Wednesday, do again going on 4 days rest following a very short start.

    The benefit of this, is to
    Maximise the games started by Kershaw (3), Hill (2) & Darvish (2), with no need for a 4th starter.

    If we win tonight, then all options are open.

    Any thoughts?

    1. I’ll buy in, because Kershaw only threw 80 pitches in his last game.

      We really need to win tonight!

      Brandon McCarthy pitched like a guy who has not pitched in a while, but now that he has, I think he may be an asset to this team.

      Alex Wood is not right! Even Ray Charles can see that. He will start, but B-Mac could follow soon.

      1. Baez hit pitches out of the zone on Wood. Considering the long layoff he did fine. Of course, now he has another long lay off.

  2. I think you are right Watford. If that is the case, I would move Wood to the bullpen. Right now we have five relief pitchers I trust. They are Jansen, Morrow, Cingrani, Watson and Maeda. That would give us another arm which I think is needed. At this moment I do not trust Stripling, McCarthy or Fields. Wood did pitch out of the pen early and he looked good.

    I think we will see Forsythe at second. It looks to me like Utley is not what he used to be. He is great in the clubhouse and I hope the Dodgers can retain him next year in some capacity.

    Grandal did show me the last time he played that he could lay off bad pitches. He walked three times. That has been his problem. I like Ethier, but being out of baseball for two years makes it hard. Especially later in life. I would go with Grandal as the DH.

    1. I would go with Forsythe too, because Chase’s misplay cost us a run, and if that run didn’t score, I don’t think Roberts would have pulled Hill that soon.

      The official scorer gave Chase’s misplay a hit, but that is a play that Chase has to make, and that was not a hit.

      And I like Chase, but he has not looked very good lately.

  3. Watford, maybe I’m too sleepy to get this correct, but it appears to me that in all three cases you mention above. Kershaw, Darvish and Wood would be going on the 4th day, on 3 days rest, NOT 4. Don’t think that’s going to happen.

    What will happen, is that within a couple of days after any of them starts, they will be available out of the pen.

    1. Brooklyn – hope you are well – I bet you were hoping for a Yankees/Dodgers WS – you may have been going to the games these next 3 nights

      What I was clumsily trying to propose, was that, normally a pitcher takes the ball every 5th night during the regular season. In this circumstance, I can see Doc asking CK, RH & YD to take the ball every 4th night – especially considering how few pitches the Starters have thrown in games 1 & 2, and the pressing nature of the situation.
      Kershaw has done it before, with some success ( through 6 innings ).
      I think it depends on the result tonight.

      I think following the game 2 meltdown.
      Doc will be reluctant to use 2 of his Pen in Stripling & McCarthy.

  4. I found it troubling that Roberts supported all of his pitching decisions in game 2 and said he would not have done anything differently.

    1. Rudy, I would think that what he says to the media is not what he is saying to his coaches. What is he supposed to say to the media? Without the benefit of hindsight, why would he do anything different? I think that is how he is spinning it in his mind. If Stripling gets 3 outs, we are probably not second guessing him. But he did not, and here we are.

  5. Looking a little between the numbers.
    Smith (23 next season) – 11-33, 2 doubles, 1 triple – 5 RBIs, 3 BB – 10K…- .333/.378/.455/.833. Will has 10 K in 36 PA (27.8% K rate). He appears to be slumping a bit. He has 3 singles for his last 15 AB (16 PA), 1 BB and 6K. He is still considered a plus plus defensive catcher, so his offense would be a plus. With the emergence of Keibert Ruiz, and the up and coming Connor Wong, Smith could be a player who could be moved for a player of need (or want). Neither Smith nor Ruiz are back up catchers, so who gets to play at AA?
    Diaz (21) 11-30, 1 double, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4BB, 6K, 2 SB, 3 CS… – .367/.459/.500/.929. Yusniel is the intriguing player. He does not have much power, so it would be best if he can stay in CF. He is 21 and played very well at AA after his promotion. The Dodgers may look to push him and see what he can do at AAA. But it will depend as to who is retained and/or signed for OKC. The Dodgers like MLB ready players available at AAA rather than continued development.
    Peters (22 next season) – 4-21, 1 double, 1 triple, 2 RBI, 1BB, 9K… – .190/.227/.333/.561. DJ just spent his first full year in professional baseball, so he may be gassed for the AFL (think Alex Verdugo last year). He needs to work on cutting down his K’s. He will start at AA after a restful winter. He should have a future.
    Beaty – 4-27, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 6K… – .148/.179/.185/.364. Matt had a tremendous year at AA, culminating in Player of the Year in the Texas League. The AFL could be somewhat anti-climactic for him. He his playing a lot of 3B which is more important. He will get bumped to AAA next year, hopefully to continue his maturation as a 3B. But knowing how important versatility is to the organization, he will still undoubtedly move around.
    None of the 4 pitchers are standouts. Sopko (23) is the only starter, and he is pitching respectably. In 10.1 IP he has allowed 12 hits and 3 BB. He only has 5 K’s, so he is going to have to rely on keeping the ball down for ground balls, which he is doing. But he is not one who will routinely get that K when he needs to.
    Isaac Anderson (24), may have a 0.00 ERA, but with allowing 7 hits and 1 BB in 4 IP, his WHIP is 2.00. IMO WHIP is a more important stat than ERA for a reliever. Isaac was supposed to have a breakout year in 2017, but struggled everywhere he pitched.
    Spitzbarth (23) is a reliever that many are excited about. But he is not a closer. He has been scored on in 2 of his 5 games in the AFL. He is prone to big innings. We probably get to see what he can do at AAA to determine if he is ML ready.
    Boyle has had the best AFL of the 4. In 4.1 IP he has allowed 4 hits, 0 BB, and 4 K. He gave up a HR for his only run allowed in his Game 1. His last three games have been very good. He got a mid-season promotion to RC. But he will be 24 next year, so he should get pushed to AA as a reliever.
    Two AFL players to watch:
    Alex Jackson who will turn 22 on Christmas is a catcher in the Braves organization. He is hitting .351/.400/.811/1.211 with 5 HR’s and 10 RBI’s in the AFL. He spent most of the year at AA where he hit .255/.317/.427/.744 as a 21 year old.
    Ronald Acuna (19) is a very speedy CF with the Braves. He is hitting .333/.422/.500/.922. He spent time at three different levels in 2017 advancing to AAA where he hit .344/.393/.548/.940 with 221 AB. He got better at every stop. He has tremendous potential, and could find his name on the Braves 25 man out of ST. If so what do the Braves do with Enciarte…hmmmm?

  6. And yes to your query about oldtimers and the movie…one of the great Westerns of all time…Rio Bravo (with John Wayne, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan). I think I am up to 75 times seeing that film. Maybe 50 for El Dorado, the sequel. I used to sing that Dean Martin/Ricky Nelson song all the time when growing up. Yes, I am a Western fanatic.

  7. When I was younger I think that I just assumed that the Dodgers would play in the World Series frequently – after all, they always did. I starting watching the Blue in ’65 and so they played in the Series that year and the next one, 3 times in the ’70s and twice in the 80’s. After a 29 year wait, I am so pleased to see them back where they belong that I am on Cloud 9.

    This is a bittersweet Series for me. Not only is this the 1st year without Vin to tell us what’s happening, it’s the 1st season without my dad. Dad, was born in Brooklyn and saw his 1st game at Ebbets in 1938 with his dad and uncle who were also fans (we have been Dodger fans in my family for 100 years). He slept outside of Ebbets before the ’49 Series to buy walk up tickets when he was 16. He took me to my 1st game at the Coliseum in 1959 when I was 3. Dad died in January so this is my 1st season with the Dodgers without Vin or my dad. Dad really would have enjoyed watching them play this year, so I am counting my blessings and really happy for the Dodgers.

    We can disagree about the way to build a team or manage it and of course we can second guess the manager (isn’t that what fans do?), but we should take the time to really enjoy our Dodgers and the Series this year.

    1. Nice story, Rick. Sorry about your loss.
      My father also took me to the Coliseum to see my first game in 1959. It was a night game. I remember walking though the tunnel and looking down at the field as if it were yesterday.

  8. I don’t want to see McCarthy come in again.

    After the game, McCarthy was talking about his pitches not being sharp, and he said he didn’t have enough time, in so many words, to get his pitches crisp enough.

    He is pitching from the bullpen, so I don’t want to hear that he can’t get ready to pitch well enough, in a game.

    McCarthy doesn’t have the mentality to pitch out of the bullpen, and he doesn’t deserve to be on this roster, either!

  9. The first game I remember my father taking me to see the Dodgers for the first time in July, 1961. I was 8 years old and the Dodgers were playing the Reds at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. The Dodgers won 10-1 and Moon, Larker, Snider and Willie Davis all hit home runs while Sandy pitched a complete game. My dad was a big Reds fan and I became a huge Dodger fan and we had great times rooting for our teams, although my second favorite team was the Reds and his was the Dodgers.

    My dad has been gone for over twenty years and it probably took 5 years before I quit tyring to call him after games.

    1. I was brainwashed a Dodgers fan by my father. Doing the same to my son and trying to help keep my Dad’s spirit alive since my son never got to meet his grandfather. I lost him in a car accident we were in when I was almost 10. Collected baseball cards with him. We also played a lot of Strat-o-matic baseball. I was the batboy for the Pony league teams that he coached. I had a Willie Davis poster in my room when I was 4 or 5 years old. I’ve got a couple Willie Davis model wood bats still and one Jackie Robinson. None are in great shape, but I hang onto them. My first real memory of watching games on TV with him was the 1974 playoffs and WS. I would have been six. He used to take me to Wrigley and Busch when the Dodgers were in the Midwest. We would catch all of the Dodgers entering Busch on their way to the stadium from their hotel. He got to see the Dodgers win it all in the 60’s, but we never got to see them win it all together since he passed in July of 1978. Gibby’s and JT’s dingers were on his birthday. Named my daughter Brooklyn to start the brainwashing on her as well.

  10. My dad never took me to a baseball game. I was raised on a farm. We worked from sun up til sun down. We had Herefords, Holsteins, geese, turkeys, chickens, hogs, wheat and barley. My dad did let us play High School sports. My dad never got 100 miles from home until after he was 70 years old. i rode a horse to school. I was the only sibling of 6 that went to college. We had no heat in the two upstairs bedrooms. It would get to -30 in the winter.

  11. I have no such fond memories of spending any time with my father. Although a fan since 1958, my first Dodger game was with neighbors and Game 3 of the 1963 WS. It was a Don Drysdale 3 hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over Jim Bouton. I remember keeping score at the game and keeping my scorecard with my ticket. It was later thrown out with all of my other memorabilia after graduating high school before I could get back to them pick up.
    My second game was Game 4 of the 1965 WS. Again with neighbors and again a Don Drysdale win. This time over Mudcat grant. In 1966 my neighbors got tickets to Game 1, another Don Drysdale start. They believed that I brought the Dodgers luck with Drysdale pitching in the WS. No such luck this time. Drysdale and the Dodgers lost 5-2. But I did get to see the Dodgers score the only two runs they would score in the 1966 WS.
    My next game was 1969 after graduating HS. I did make up for all the lost games. I have seen the Dodgers play well over 1,000 games in 10 different stadiums including 70 of the 81 home games in the 1970 season.

  12. Taylor

    I’m a little confused by this lineup. Forsythe 6th vs righty, Joc not Either vs curve ball pitcher, Kike DHing vs righty when Kike has hit .170 vs righties. McCullers has reverse splits though I believe. I think I would want Kike available to PH against a lefty when needed. The bench will consist of Eithier, Utley, Grandal, Culberson. I can see a lefty being brought in to throw to Joc and all the Dodgers have to counter with is cult hero Charlie Culberson.

    1. Kike is also terrible at hitting curve balls especially from RH pitching. I hope he stays back and drives the ball to RCF

      1. Hawkeye

        I just heard David Vassagh on the radio, and Kike is 3 for 4 in the post season, so they want to try to ride his hot bat.

        If the Astros pitcher has reverse splits why is Joc playing, and especially against a pitcher that throws mainly curves, like you said?

        I was hoping Roberts goes to the bench, if we have that same situation that came up, when Joc couldn’t put the ball in play.

        1. They have now made Joc DH and Kike LF which strategically makes some sense, but I assumed we would see Dre tonight.

    2. Houston has only two LHP on the roster, Keuchel and Liriano, so not much need there for a RH PH. Liriano has thrown less than 2 innings in the playoffs this year. Forsythe and Kike can’t hit a hard slider very well from RHP, perhaps they can stay back better on curves. Kike did hit one of his HR’s to R Center and had a hit to RF last game off a rightie. Joc and Logan will bring better defense as well and this may be a low scoring game. Then again McCullers is inconsistent and struggles with command at times, Dodgers hitters need to be patient and selective. Darvish will give this lineup problems.

  13. I don’t know about you guys, but that crashing sound and thundering of feet were all the “Dodger Fans” jumping off the bandwagon, including some of the sportswriters. Did anybody even think that we were just going to roll the balls and bats out there the Astros were gonna run for the hills? This is the best team we have faced so far this year, they didn’t win over 100 games this year for nothing, and yes, I’m going to have some sleepless nights over the next week. With that said, you gotta LOVE the way we scratched and clawed back late in Game 2. These are not your Kemp and Ethier Dodgers back in the day, when you could actually see the air go out of the dugout and the shoulders slumping when the other team got a late lead. I love these guys! Mark said it best, Junkyard Dogs, Baby! I will be stressing and pulling for Darvish tonight, but even if we come up short, we are in this series all the way. Might take 7 games, but this team is built different from all the others. They just don’t give up. Plus I’ve noticed ever since that Game 2 win, MLB network and ESPN are falling all over themselves proclaiming how bad ass the Astros are and how the Dodgers are in trouble. Bunch of damn Bandwagoners. That’s ok, keep on drinking the Kool-Aid boys, I will take my chances on Dodger Blue.

    1. Well, I am driving that Bandwagon. I’m arbout ready to go to the whip.

      I was hoping the Astros would roll over and die. That was my hope, but it ain’t happening!

      To Infinity and Beyond!

  14. They’re not going win with calls like I just saw on Bellinger. Credit that strikeout to the umpire.

  15. Get Darvish out. Dodgers can come back from 4-0. 6-0 would be a lot more difficult. Roberts making change, so I guess he agrees.

  16. 10 day gaps between starts multiple times doesn’t usually help. Gurriel hit a decent pitch and then he fell apart. Much tighter zone for Darvish than McCullers.

  17. I know it sounds crazy, but the Astros just screwed up. They had a golden opportunity to put us away 6-0 but didn’t. I am totally cool being down 4-0 in the 3rd in that band box of a park. Stop the bleeding, keep hit McCullers hard, and they will start falling. Astros are getting cocky, we are getting determined.

  18. Unreal. The bottom of the order walks the bases loaded and the Seager and JT are hacking away at borderline pitches early in the count.

  19. I would have liked to see Seager, as he often does, going to the opposite field instead of swinging for the fences like Joc Pederson. As good as he is, Cory is still only 23.

    But as I said in a previous post, the Dodgers are going to have to start hitting with RISP.

    It’s only the 4th inning. Plenty of time to come back. A big crooked number would be nice, but so would a run here and a run there throughout the rest of the game.

  20. Seager says give me a bat I will stop this rally! He refused to let McCullers walk him or at least get a pitch up. Terrible at bat for a guy who is supposed to be an mvp candidate. Bellinger is even worse but at least he strikes out for 1 out at a time. I’m sorry but we look like a little league team. No pitching, no hitting, bad base running we have to get better can’t play much worse.

  21. Same thing occurred to me. I wasn’t sure, but it could have been worth a challenge, especially since I think the teams get an extra challenge in the playoffs. But maybe the Dodgers video people had an angle that showed him to be out.

  22. If the Dodgers are going to come back in this game, one way to do it is to chip away at the lead one or two runs at a time. Pederson on 2nd with one out, and the Dodgers can’t hit with a runner in scoring position and get him home. Can’t just do it with the long ball.

    Don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Austin Barnes is not hitting. Hasn’t done so in a while. Is it time to begin thinking about Yasmani?

  23. Well, that’s a way to get a run.

    Just hoping that Cody can calm down, and stop trying to pull everything out of the park.

  24. Well, I’m glad Stripling can laugh about his horrible pitching.

    To paraphrase Vinny, Roberts managerial skills these past two games have gone from the penthouse to the basement.

    Our clean-up hitter is not cleaning up.

    I’m not sure we could play any worse than we have tonight…and we’re only down by 2 runs.

  25. Where is Gonzalez now? Bellinger is way over his head. Blowing game 2 was a team effort from Roberts stupid moves, utley can’t field a ground ball, pederson striking out with a guy on third less than 2 outs, etc then you put guys like Stripling and McCarthy in it’s a disaster. I don’t know how the dodgers are within 2 runs as bad as they have played. Our vaunted bullpen has been mishandled while Houston supposedly weak bullpen just blows seager and bellinger away with fastballs down the middle. Oh well tomorrow’s a new day but Alex Wood pitching I don’t think we get back to la.

  26. Just a hunch but I think Kershaw goes tomorrow on short rest, followed by Hill and Darvish and then Kershaw again. All 3 had low pitch counts and Wood can then help out in the pen. They have to turn it around in Game 4 and need a lift. The Dodgers big hitters have to strap it on too, they have all gone quiet. Darvish hadn’t pitched in 10 days and it showed up big time.

      1. I know what he said but they need to win 3 of the next 4 games, Kershaw starting twice gives them the best chance of doing that.

  27. Did you guys see the racist thing the Astros first baseman did?

    He put his fingers to his eyes, and pulled his eyes to look Japanese, and it was about Darvish.

    You will see it tomorrow, because a media guy just asked Dave about it.

  28. You can’t expect to win many games if you have only 4 hits. Roberts is messing up the bullpen, we won’t have anyone to pitch tomorrow if Wood doesn’t go deep.

    1. That’s one of the reasons people like Vegas and myself are hoping for Kershaw to start, so Wood can relieve.

  29. Alex Wood pitching tomorrow doesn’t mean the Dodgers won’t get back to LA, since Kershaw is pitching game 5,. And even if he wasn’t, there is no reason the Dodgers can’t win game 5. Justin Verlsnder is not Superman. And of course I’m not conceding tomottow’s game. And even though what happened last year is not necessarily a harbinger of things to come, it is true that the Cubs came back from a 1-3 deficit. And since the AL under the old rules had home field last year, that means that the Cubs won games 6 and 7 on the road. Somebody has to be behind 1-2 after 3 games. Fat lady doesn’t sing until after one team wins 4 games. Then and only then will I give up.

    No doubt that Bellinger is struggling, and there’s no guarantee that he will come out of it. Yet for but a fraction of an inch off his bat, he came within a whisker of walking off game 2.

    Maybe I missed something, but how has Roberts’ managerial skills descended to the basement in this game? Must be that he gets the blame for Darvish getting bombed.

    The Dodgers lost this game for the same reason they lost game 2, which is the total inability to his with RISP. They couldn’t push a tack on run across the plate in game 2, and they couldn’t get hits when it counted in this game, especially when they loaded the bases with no outs.

  30. I think Roberts only pitches Kershaw tomorrow if he wants him to pitch a possible game 7, or if he wants him as a stronger option out of the pen later in the series.

  31. I don’t think Doc mismanaged the game at all, but it’s reasonable to question some of his moves. I realize managing is instinct sometimes but why would you start Barnes against a RHP only to PH for him with Grandal against a RHP down by 2 runs? If you liked Barnes to grind out AB’s as a starter why wouldn’t you leave him in to get on base to set up a 2-run HR? He also started Fosythe but uses Utley to PH against a RHP.

    I think Doc is great but maybe over managing a bit.

  32. Three factoids that bear mentioning:
    1. The combo of Taylor, Seager, Turner and Bellinger went 1-for-13 tonight. The lineup has always been top-heavy. That’s the downside.
    2. Cody Bellinger, 22, is the 2nd youngest player to whiff 4 times in a WS game. Mickey Mantle is the youngest at 21.
    3. Ross Stripling notched one fewer out in game 3 than Yu Darvish.

  33. Very hard watch.
    Terrible game in lots of ways, with very few positives to take from it.

    I’m afraid the game 2 meltdown has let the air out of the balloon.

  34. Not a good game and it didn’t have a feel of a good effort from our boys in blue. All of em swinging to knock it out of the pavilion. I expected more even though I have no right to I still do. Dire straits these next games and Tommy need to pepper rally these guys into believing that it’s theirs to lose and take to their graves for only coming close after all they’d accomplished. This is supposed to be different! Put a worthy plan together and execute it to the letter. Lets see singles and walks ahead of those home runs instead of popup flies. It’s time for Dodger baseball. I want Kershaw of the mound tomorrow to tie this series up and put the bullets back where they belong. GO DODGERS!!!!!!!!!

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