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Cubs Minor League Recap: 4/22/14

Iowa and Daytona both had offensive outbursts, and Kane County held on to capture a win Tuesday. Tennessee surrendered 14 runs in a loss. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:

Iowa Cubs (10-9)
T-2nd Place (-1.5)

Six extra-base hits and a quality start from Eric Jokisch helped Iowa to a 10-3 win over Round Rock.

  • LHP Eric Jokisch picked up his first win of the season, going seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and no walks, and fanning eight.
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.271) went 2-for-5 with two runs, a double, a homer and two RBI (10). It was his second homer in as many games.
  • SS Javier Baez (.184) went 2-for-5 with a run, a triple and three RBI (6).
  • DH Chris Valaika (.340) went 3-for-3 with a run, a double, a walk and an RBI.
  • C Luis Flores (.300) went 2-for-3 with three runs, a walk and two RBI.
  • Iowa hit .538 (7-for-13) with runners in scoring position.

Tennessee Smokies (9-10)
4th Place (-2.0)

Birmingham’s eight-run fifth and five-run eighth contributed to a Smokies 14-3 setback on the road.

  • RHP Pierce Johnson was activated from the DL (right hamstring strain), and made his first career start at the Double-A level. He gave up three earned runs over four innings, striking out five.
  • 3B Kris Bryant went 3-for-5 with a run and a double, raising his season average to .311.
  • RHP Ryan Searle (9.26) allowed six earned runs in relief.
  • LHP Jeff Lorick (4.70) replaced him and allowed five runs, three earned.

Daytona Cubs (5-13)
5th Place (-9.0)

Daytona tallied 14 runs on 12 extra-base hits between the third and sixth innings to win, 18-5, at Clearwater.

  • RHP Tayler Scott earned the win, giving up one earned run over 5.1 innings and striking out one.
  • 1B Rock Shoulders (.250) launched his second homer, a two-out grand slam in the ninth inning, and went 3-for-5 with four runs, a walk, two doubles, the homer and four RBI (12).
  • RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.339) went 4-for-5 with four runs, a walk, a double, two triples and three RBI (11).
  • 2B Gioskar Amaya (.474) added three hits, going 3-for-4 with four runs, a walk and an RBI.

Kane County (12-6)
1st Place (+0.5)

Kane County held off a late Beloit rally to win, 5-4, at home.

  • RHP Paul Blackburn gave up one earned run over 5.1 innings, posting no strikeouts and walking two.
  • LHP Nathan Dorris (2.2 IP, 1 ER, 1.64) and RHP Jose Arias (0.2 IP, 2 ER, 4.50) earned holds, while RHP Zack Godley (2.35 ERA) recorded a one-out save, his third.
  • RF Yasiel Balaguert (.324) went 1-for-4 with a run, a walk and an RBI. His 15 RBI are tied for second in the league.
  • Four other players recorded one RBI each: CF Jacob Hannemann (.226, 5), SS Carlos Penalver (.302, 6), DH Ben Carhart (.276, 8) and 3B David Bote (.225, 5).

1000 Words: Wrigley Field biplane flyover


The Cubs concluded a memorable pregame ceremony to honor the 100th birthday of Wrigley Field with a historic biplane flyover. Several former Cubs players also took part in the festivities, including Ernie Banks, Glenn Beckert, Andre Dawson, Ryan Dempster, Bobby Dernier, Randy Hundley, Fergie Jenkins, Gary Matthews, Milt Pappas, Lee Smith and Billy Williams. Sam and Spencer Brown, Ron Santo’s grandchildren, stood in for the Cubs Hall of Famer, while Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers were on hand to commemorate the Chicago Bears nearly 50 years at the ballpark.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Wrigley Field 100th birthday photo gallery

Wrigley Field Memories

Few people get to see Wrigley Field in all her glory. This is before the hot dogs are on the grill, before the distinctive sound of cowhide meeting hard maple rings through the park, before 40,000 cheering fans make their way into the belly of the Friendly Confines.

The best time to experience Wrigley Field is in the morning, when the sun is shining and the park is empty. That’s when you can see the venerable, 100-year-old ballpark for what she is—a beautiful, lush green oasis in the middle of one of the most densely populated cities on the planet.

Bereft of fans, players and noise, you also get a better sense of just how anachronistic Wrigley Field is—from the brick outfield wall, to the ivy, to the manual scoreboard, to the light standards. Wrigley is a shrine to baseball. Not a modern, Disney-meets-Dave & Buster’s amusement park, where a sporting event just happens to be played amidst other fanfare designed to keep modern, iPhone-obsessed fans occupied. Wrigley is all about the game.

And sitting solo in the grandstand, it’s easy to imagine what the stadium looked like and felt like when Andre Dawson roamed right field, or Ron Santo manned the Hot Corner, or Grover Cleveland Alexander toed the slab. The concourses and halls of the stadium are filled with memories, stretching back past Babe Ruth’s supposed called shot.

For 100 years, Wrigley Field has been the altar upon which North Side baseball is consecrated. And a century of sporting (and other) events calls for a little celebration.

Ultimately, what else can be said about one of the great, historic cathedrals of baseball? We decided to turn it over to the people who know the stadium best and let the images and quotes speak for themselves.

Happy 100th birthday Wrigley Field. Here’s to 100 more. (Click the images below to start the slideshow.)

1000 Words: Wrigley Field gets its own Cake Boss birthday cake


Wrigley Field will celebrate its 100th anniversary Wednesday. And like all birthdays, a cake will be present. Fans will be able to view an elaborate decorative cake from Carlo’s Bakery, the setting of the TLC show Cake Boss, near the Ernie Banks statue on Clark Street until the third inning. The first 10,000 fans at today’s game will also receive a birthday cupcake, compliments of Jewel-Osco.

From the Pages of Vine Line: The best home opener from every decade of Wrigley Field


Wednesday marks 100 years of home openers at the stadium we now call Wrigley Field. The following can be found in the April issue of Vine Line.

For a century, it’s been the day when everything is new again. To mark the occasion, there have been fireworks and parades; tributes to legends and unforgettable, edge-of-your-seat wins; warm spring days and blustery, winter-like afternoons.

Opening Day at Wrigley Field has always been a time to remember what it feels like, sounds like and smells like to be a part of Cubs history. Since 1914, fans from across Chicago and around the world have made their way to the Friendly Confines to witness the start of a new season and pin their hopes on the lovable North Side nine.

Over the years, the park has evolved: Weeghman Park became Cubs Park became Wrigley Field; the Chi-Feds became the Whales and then gave way to the Cubs; and 14,000 seats grew to 41,000. But the game and the excitement of the fans remain the same, season after season.

To celebrate the Cubs’ home opener on April 4 and Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday on April 23, we’re taking a look back at the most memorable Opening Day from each of the Friendly Confines’ 10 decades. Because this is, by nature, a subjective exercise, we called on Cubs historian Ed Hartig to help choose the games.

Without further ado, here are Vine Line’s 10 most exciting Wrigley Field openers.

April 20, 1916: Cubs, meet Weeghman Park

The Cubs’ official debut at their new, North Side home was no small event.

The matchup with the Cincinnati Reds kicked off with fireworks, six brass bands, a 21-gun salute and an official flag-raising ceremony. Local dignitaries gave speeches—though it’s possible few in attendance actually heard them. The roar of the brass bands drowned out at least one address, given by a local judge.

Members of the 25th Ward Democratic Organization paraded around the park with a donkey. There was a car parade, and the team’s president was presented with flowers and a live bear cub. (The cub, Joa, was led to home plate, where he mugged for photographers.)

Outside of the park, hundreds of people gathered on rooftops and clustered around windows to catch a glimpse of the action. Workers even added extra seats to the outfield to accommodate the crowds.

“There was a newness and a curiosity to things,” Chicago Tribune writer James Crusinberry noted. “It was the first time many of the players and doubtless many of the fans had ever seen the North Side park. But they seemed to have no trouble finding it.”

After all the festivities, the Cubs didn’t let their fans down, topping the Reds 7-6 in 11 innings. Cy Williams doubled to reach base in the bottom of the 11th, and a Vic Saier single drove him in to score the winning run.

Reds left fielder John Beall recorded the game’s only home run­­­—which meant he should have earned a free suit from a local tailor named George Kelly. The tailor was offering suits to any player who hit a home run during the opener, but it’s unclear if Beall ever took Kelly up on the offer.

April 14, 1925: The Chicago Cubs are on the air

For the first time in Cubs history, fans tuned into the action at Wrigley Field without leaving the comfort of their homes.

The 1925 home opener was broadcast on WGN Radio, with announcer Quin Ryan calling the game from the grandstand roof. At the time, it was a revolutionary—and risky—concept. Other baseball clubs had held off on radio broadcasts, because they worried airing the games would deter fans from actually coming to the ballpark.

The Cubs faithful, however, still turned out in droves. The crowd was estimated at 40,000, a then-Opening Day record.

“That the North Side park—newly painted and looking as neat as a Dutch bakery—will be jammed today is a certainty,” Chicago Tribune writer Irving Vaughan noted the day before the game. “The advance sales of seats have been so heavy that the supply of reservations was exhausted early yesterday.”

WGN’s broadcasts were sporadic in the early days, but the practice caught on soon enough.

As for the game itself? On a particularly chilly April day, the Cubs topped the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-2, thanks to the efforts of starting pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. The right-hander hit a home run, double and single, and pitched a complete game, surrendering just two runs, neither earned.

April 12, 1933: Prohibition is (almost) over—and Cubs fans know it

About two months after the 21st Amendment, which would repeal Prohibition, was proposed to Congress—but still three months before Illinois officially ratified it—beer was back at Wrigley Field for the first time in more than a decade.

After the game, two bars located under the grandstand reported that they sold more beer at the 1933 home opener than they had soft drinks at the same game in 1932.

Fans enjoying the affair with a cold one got to see the Cubs top the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0. Gabby Hartnett had three hits in four at-bats, driving in two runs.

Cubs ace Lon Warneke, who had a few peculiar habits, took on the equally colorful Dizzy Dean.

“They called [Warneke] the Arkansas Hummingbird,” teammate Phil Cavarretta said at the time. “He’d be by his locker, and he had a little ole ukulele, and he’d play that and hum and sing, which was fine. As long as he kept winning ballgames, why complain?”

April 17, 1945: The start of something big

The story about 1945 wasn’t so much the home opener as the season it launched. The Cubs went 98-56 to capture their most recent NL pennant, beating out the Cardinals before falling to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

The campaign was bookended by a pair of series against St. Louis. Bill Nicholson hit a home run early in the opener and later scored the winning run on a ninth-inning single by Don Johnson.

Later in his life, Cavarretta would compare Johnson to another second baseman with a reputation for starting a rally.

“Don Johnson was our Ryne Sandberg,” he said.

The Cubs would finish 6-16 versus the Cards for the year, but they still outpaced the division by three games.

April 18, 1952: A spirited comeback

With the Cubs down 4-1 heading into the ninth inning against the Cardinals, it looked like the team was poised to start the season on a disappointing note.

But the Cubs knocked in four runs in the final frame against three Cardinals pitchers, who didn’t retire a single batter, to notch a 5-4 win. A pinch-hit double from Bill Serena with the bases loaded drove in Roy Smalley and Joe Hatten for the tying and winning runs.

“I never saw such spirit,” said Cavarretta, who was managing his first home opener and considered sending himself in as a pinch-hitter. “In that ninth inning, four or five guys were eager to hit while we were building up the rally. I was going to get into the act until they switched to a left-hander.”

April 8, 1969: Just when you think you’ve got it …

The 1969 home opener looked like a clear-cut win, as the Cubs headed into the ninth inning up by three runs. But then Philadelphia’s Don Money slammed a three-run homer off Fergie Jenkins, and fans were left on the edge of their seats.

The Phillies took the lead in the 11th, but the Cubs battled back. In the home half, Randy Hundley singled and scored on Willie Smith’s two-run, walk-off, pinch-hit home run. Ernie Banks also homered twice in the Cubs’ 7-6 victory.

“I was in the dugout trying to keep warm, and I wanted to give Willie a kiss for doing it because I was freezing,” said Cubs infielder Glenn Beckert.

Cubs pitcher Bill Hands was sitting next to manager Leo Durocher in the dugout as Smith stepped up to the plate.

“[Durocher] kept saying, ‘Just a dying quail over third, that’s all I want.’ And I said, ‘The hell with that, Skip, he’ll hit it out.’”

April 14, 1978: Climbing the wall to get in

Typically, the team would save about 22,000 tickets to sell on gameday, but they’d cut that number to just 12,000 prior to the season. Knowing they’d have to be quick to get a seat, eager fans started lining up outside of Wrigley Field at 3:30 a.m.

Ushers pushed back people trying to climb over the outfield wall to get in, and, for a while, vendors were worried there could be trouble—especially since they were going through more beer than they ever had before.

In the end, the park saw its largest Opening Day crowd (45,777), and Woodie Fryman took a no-hitter into the sixth before a fly ball by the Pirates’ Dave Parker fell in. Gene Clines should have caught the ball, but Clines turned the wrong way, and the ball fell to safety.

The Pirates rallied to tie the game, but the Cubs ultimately won, 5-4, on a walk-off home run from Larry Biittner.

“When he left the bench, honest to God, he told me he was going to hit one out of here,” manager Herman Franks said of Biittner.

“I never said that,” Biittner countered. “I’m not a home run hitter. You know that.”

April 4, 1989: “Ulcer city”

Mark Grace said he’d never been involved in a more nerve-racking or exciting game.

The situation: With the Cubs holding a slim 5-4 lead, the Phillies opened the ninth with three straight singles off closer Mitch Williams. Noted Cubs-killer Mike Schmidt, who had already knocked a home run in the game, was due up.

“When you have the bases loaded, no one out, and you’re 2-0 on Mike Schmidt, I can’t think of a worse situation to be in in all of baseball,” pitcher Rick Sutcliffe later said.

Luckily, Williams was up to the challenge. The quirky reliever rallied to fan the slugger and then struck out Chris James and Mark Ryal to preserve the win.

Williams’ former Texas teammate Paul Kilgus had given Cubs manager Don Zimmer some advice on how to survive watching Williams pitch in such a game.

“Ulcer city,” he said. “Drink a lot of milk, Zim.”

Sutcliffe picked up his third Wrigley Field opening win in five seasons, and Jerome Walton and Joe Girardi both made their major league debuts, each chipping in two hits.

April 3, 1998: Farewell to a legend

On an emotional day, the Cubs opened the 1998 season by paying tribute to Harry Caray, who had passed away in February.

The team unveiled a Caray caricature above the WGN-TV booth, and Caray’s wife, Dutchie, pinch-hit for her husband, leading the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” When the song finished, a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace,” and 3,000 blue and white Harry Caray balloons were released from behind the left-field wall.

In the game itself, the Cubs beat Montreal, 6-2, for their third straight victory, but it was the spontaneous wave of emotion that swept the ballpark at the top of the seventh inning that was the talk of the team afterward.

With one out to go before the start of the seventh-inning stretch, virtually everyone in the stands was on their feet, and chants of “HAR-RY, HAR-RY” echoed across the El tracks.

“I was looking around thinking, ‘Oh, geez, what if a ball is hit to me right now?’” said third baseman Kevin Orie. “I was trying to pay attention, but, at the same time, I was trying to soak it all in. Everyone had goose bumps.”

At one point, Montreal’s Chris Widger sent a fly ball into the outfield. Right fielder Sammy Sosa and second baseman Mickey Morandini went running for it, but the crowd’s chanting was so loud they couldn’t hear each other. The ball bounced out of Sosa’s glove.

Starter Steve Trachsel did a little bit of everything, pitching 7.1 innings of two-run, four-hit ball, striking out seven and driving in three runs with a pair of singles.

April 13, 2009: Lilly’s near no-no

Rain nearly postponed the game, but after a 72-minute delay, the Cubs and the Rockies got things going on a miserable 36-degree day.

The Cubs featured a makeshift lineup, as they were missing projected starters Milton Bradley (groin), Geovany Soto (shoulder) and Aramis Ramirez (stiff back) due to injuries. Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez was his own worst enemy, lasting only 3.2 innings, walking six and hitting a batter. The Cubs finished the game with nine walks.

The weather was the story until Ted Lilly got on a hot streak. The lefty didn’t give up a hit until the seventh inning, when he allowed a single to Garrett Atkins. He followed that with a walk to end his day. Three relievers finished off the Cubs’ 4-0, one-hit win before 40,077 fans at Wrigley Field.

Would manager Lou Piniella have left Lilly, who had thrown 104 pitches through 6.2 innings, in the game if the no-hitter had still been intact?

“It would’ve been a tough decision, because it’s early in the season to let a pitcher go much more than what he pitched,” Piniella said. “You’re looking for problems.”

Lilly said he knew he was on a good run, but didn’t let it shake his concentration.

“I was still trying to focus on making quality pitches, and not so much, ‘How am I going to protect the no-hitter?’” he said. “I just wanted to make good pitches and felt if I did that, I like my chances.”

1000 Words: Banks gets in the spirit


The Ernie Banks statue gets dressed up for the 100th birthday festivities at Wrigley Field. All the statues around the park will be wearing the Chi-Feds jerseys from 1914. The first 30,000 fans at the game will also take home a replica Chi-Feds jersey.

Both teams will be wearing Federal League throwback uniforms for Wednesday’s game—the Cubs will be dressed in Chi-Feds uniforms, and the Diamondbacks will be dressed as the Kansas City Packers (who the Cubs beat 9-1 on April 23, 1914, to open then-Weeghman Park).

1000 Words: Vine Line in Final Jeopardy


Oddly, we knew the answer to this one. Thanks to the producers at Jeopardy for including Vine Line as the answer to Tuesday’s Final Jeopardy question.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 4/21/14

Iowa, Tennessee and Daytona all racked up big wins, while Kane County continued its small losing streak Monday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (9-9)
T-2nd Place (-1.5)

Six scoreless innings from RHP Kyle Hendricks helped Iowa beat Round Rock at home, 5-1.

  • Hendricks completed his third consecutive quality start, going six innings, giving up two hits, walking two and fanning six to pick up his third win of the season.
  • RHP Yoanner Negrin (1.86) earned his first hold with a 1-2-3 seventh, and RHP Brian Schlitter (3.60) earned his third save, allowing a run over two innings.
  • CF Matt Szczur (.246) went 3-for-4 with a run, a triple (1), one RBI (8) and a stolen base (5).
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.262) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and his first homer of the year.

Tennessee Smokies (9-9)
T-2nd Place (-2.0)

The Smokies scored a season-high 10 runs in Birmingham to beat the Barons, 10-5.

  • RHP Dae-Eun Rhee gave up two earned runs over five innings, striking out four and walking five to earn the win.
  • RF Rubi Silva (.206) notched his second straight, multi-RBI game, going 2-for-5 with a first-inning home run and a game-high three RBI (6).
  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.172) was 3-for-5 with three runs, a double and a solo homer, his first of the year.
  • LF John Andreoli (.234) went 2-for-6 with two runs, a triple (1), one RBI (5) and a stolen base (8).

Daytona Cubs (4-13)
5th Place (-10.0)

Daytona battled Clearwater in a contest that featured five runs for each side in the first four innings, followed by six scoreless frames. The Cubs scored in the top of the 11th inning to win, 6-5.

  • RHP Jake Arrieta made his fourth rehab start, and first with Daytona. Arrieta fanned seven hitters while allowing three home runs in 5.2 innings of work. He went 1-1 with a 0.73 ERA (1 ER/12.1 IP) in three starts with Tennessee.
  • RHP Jose Rosario (1-2, 5.19) took over in the seventh and threw four scoreless frames for the win.
  • RHP Arodys Vizcaino (1.50) earned his first save with a perfect 11th inning of work.
  • C Chadd Krist (3-for-5) doubled in the 11th to put two runners in scoring position.
  • DH Dan Vogelbach (0-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB) scored on a wild pitch in the 11th to put the Cubs ahead.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.214) went 2-for-4 with a run, two doubles (3) and two RBI (5).

Kane County Cougars (11-6)
1st Place (+0.5)

Kane County lost its third straight game, falling to visiting Clearwater, 5-3.

  • RHP Josh Davis (1.69) allowed two runs on two hits in the ninth to suffer the loss, his first.
  • RF Yasiel Balaguert (.328) went 1-for-4 with two RBI. His 14 RBI are tied for second in the league.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (1-for-4) knocked in his 11th runner of the year, tied for 12th in the league.

1000 Words: Wood is a one-man wrecking crew


(Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty)

In what was probably one of the easiest Player of the Game decisions of the young season, Cubs starter Travis Wood took matters into his own hands on a rainy Monday night, almost single-handedly propelling the North Siders to a 5-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. In seven innings of work, Wood gave up one run on six hits and notched nine strikeouts. But the Cubs lefty didn’t stop there. He also blasted a three-run home run high into the left-field bleachers off of D-backs starter Bronson Arroyo in the second inning and plated another run in the fourth with a double over center fielder Tony Campana’s head. Wood’s nine strikeouts and four RBI were both career highs.

Wood was so formidable with the bat that Arizona manager Kirk Gibson actually pulled Arroyo in favor of reliever J.J. Putz when the Cubs pitcher came to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth. Putz got Wood to ground into a 1-2-3 double play.

Home Series 4 Preview: Cubs vs. Diamondbacks


Paul Goldschmidt hopes to carry on from a successful 2013 for the Diamondbacks. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Diamondbacks made a series of dubious decisions heading into the 2013 season, moving Justin Upton and once-highly thought of prospect Trevor Bauer in separate deals for what most felt was less than max value. In theory, both moves should have made Arizona better in the immediate future, though the D-backs enter this week’s series as the worst team in the baseball, in part due to a league-worst -51 run differential. The team disappointed in 2013 as well, finishing right at .500 for the second year in a row, after delivering 94 wins and a playoff berth in 2011. The reshuffling continued this offseason, as GM Kevin Towers moved outfielder Adam Eaton and young pitcher Tyler Skaggs in a deal that netted power-hitting outfielder Mark Trumbo from the Angels. They also consummated a separate deal with the White Sox to nab closer Addison Reed.

(13th in NL, 3.7 R/G)

Trumbo jumped out to the early home run lead in 2014 and provides the Diamondbacks with another power bat (though an awful .298 career OBP) to team with Paul Goldschmidt. The team’s offense was already solid last season, and Trumbo should help them score even more runs—especially if catcher Miguel Montero bounces back from a 2013 in which he posted a .230/.318/.344 line after delivering back-to-back .800-plus OPS years. However, it’s Goldschmidt who makes the offense tick. After a pair of very solid seasons, the slugging first baseman took his game to another level last year, posting a gaudy .302/.401/.551 line with 36 doubles and 36 home runs, and finishing second in MVP voting. If he can continue to produce at an elite level, which he’s done so far this season (.313/.330/.518), it will be a steady boost to the Diamondbacks’ offense.

(15th in NL, 6.1 R/G)

The D-Backs are off to a terrible 5-16 start, and much of that can be traced back to the rotation. Last season, the Diamondbacks got a strong contribution from young starter Wade Miley (2-2, 4.35 ERA in 2014), but they’ll miss Patrick Corbin, who injured his elbow in Spring Training. Trevor Cahill (0-4, 7.48) missed all of July 2013 with a hip contusion, but was strong in his return, posting a 2.70 ERA in 50 innings. With Ian Kennedy and Skaggs gone, the team added Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 9.95) for veteran leadership and consistency. The 37-year-old doesn’t flash plus stuff, but has continued to deliver strong seasons, having logged at least 200 innings in eight of the last nine years. But he’s off to an abysmal start in 2014. The hope is Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 7.11) can stay healthy and allow Randall Delgado (0-1, 6.23) to work out of the bullpen. The D-backs added closer Reed to solidify the late innings, but they still need J.J. Putz to stay healthy.


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