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Astros to interview Bogar, Mills

10.12.09 at 1:01 pm ET
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The Houston Astros have requested and received permission from the Red Sox to interview first base coach Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills for their vacant managerial job. Bogar, who played for Houston from 1997-2000, managed two Single-A affiliates of the Astros from 2004-05. He was named Apalachian League Manager of the Year in ’04 and South Atlantic League Manager of the Year in ’05. This was Bogar’s first season in Boston. Mills has been Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston for six seasons. He has a 6-5 record as Sox manager when covering for Francona. Mills, who played alongside Francona with the Montreal Expos in 1981-83, managed 11 seasons in the minor leagues for the Cubs (1987-92), Rockies (1993-96) and Dodgers (2002). He was first base coach for the Phillies under Francona from 1997-2000.

Read More: Brad Mills, Red Sox, Tim Bogar,

Not a field of dreams for Pedroia

10.12.09 at 8:15 am ET
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It was a moment lost on many, but not Dustin Pedroia.

With runners on first and second and one out, in the eighth inning of what would turn into the Red Sox‘ 7-6 loss to the Angels, Kendry Morales hit a bounding grounder to Pedroia at second. But upon its arrival the ball took a bad hop, forcing the second baseman to collapse to his knees and smother it just enough to get the inning’€™s second out at first.

Some, including Pedroia, felt like ‘€“ especially with Guerrero running at first ‘€“ there was a legitimate shot at an inning-ending double play when the ball left the bat.

‘€œIt took a bad hop,’€ Pedroia noted. ‘€œOur infield sucks. It’€™s the worst in the game. I’€™m not lying about that. That is true. It took a bad hop. I just tried to put my body in front of it to get an out.

‘€œI think about those things too. That stuff upsets me. My job is to take 1,000 ground balls a day and the other guy’€™s job is to get the field perfect so we can play baseball. But it happens. That’€™s the way it goes.’€

Pedroia’s right knee was severely bloodied and scraped on the play, as well. 

Loss Will Fuel Papelbon

10.11.09 at 6:51 pm ET
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Jonathan Papelbon took his time after suffering the Game 3 loss, and understandably so. Following a run of near-perfection that spanned his first four major league seasons, beginning with his dominance in the 2005 playoffs (when the Red Sox were eliminated by the White Sox) and continuing through a World Series in 2007 and a seven-game ALCS in 2008, he had been as dominant as nearly any pitcher in postseason history.

Papelbon carried a 0.00 ERA into Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Angels, the longest run without permitting an earned run to start a postseason career by any pitcher in big-league history. And so, after being entrusted with a 5-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning, Papelbon himself never would have expected an outcome like the one that unfolded.

‘€œIt hurts just as much as any other postseason loss. You can’€™t sit there and classify how much this one hurts than any other. … In postseason play, my job is to, when I get called upon is to get all the outs I’€™m called on to get,” said Papelbon. (More audio below) ‘€œI think things happened quick, more than anything. I wasn’t able to stop the bleeding. Your team fights and puts you in that situation, to call upon you, and you let them down. Your team expects you to pull through and preserve that win for you and then you don’€™t, it’€™s definitely not a good feeling.’€

The Sox closer entered with two on and two out in the top of the eighth. He left a first-pitch fastball in the middle of the zone to Juan Rivera, resulting in a two-run single that narrowed Boston’s advantage to 5-4. Even so, after the Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, Papelbon seemed set to close the door for his eighth career postseason save.

Instead, after blazing through a pair of outs to open the inning, the Angels began battling, whittling at the closer’s invincibility. Erick Aybar singled on an 0-2 fastball, then advanced to second on defensive indifference. Chone Figgins jumped ahead, 3-0, before drawing a full-count walk. Bobby Abreu then fell behind 1-2, fouled off a pitch, then lined a double to left-center to score Aybar and put runners on second and third.

The Sox elected to intentionally walk Torii Hunter (3-for-8 with a homer in his career against Papelbon) to load the bases for Vladimir Guerrero (2-for-12 against the Sox closer. Guerrero swung at Papelbon’s first-pitch fastball. (Notably, Papelbon threw nothing but fastballs in the ninth: all 26 of his pitches (not counting his intentional walk) were heaters.) Though the pitch stayed off the barrel of the bat, Guerrero muscled it into shallow center for a two-run single that ultimately propelled the Angels to victory.

‘€œI felt good. I did,” said Papelbon. “I wasn’€™t able to really locate when I needed to and it proved to be costly.’€

Papelbon said that he would leave behind the sting of defeat as soon as he left the clubhouse. He set to the task of packing his belongings for the winter after the game. Even so, the Sox closer admitted that he might make a point of replaying this game to drive himself in his preparations for the 2010 season.

“I don’€™t take anything home with me or take anything into the offseason with me,” Papelbon said initially. “Although when you do go into the offseason after the season is over and it ends like it did today, definitely, definitely you remember those situations when you’€™re in the weight room in the offseason and when you’€™re getting ready to prepare. Who knows? I may be replaying this on the TV in my weight room in the offseason and give me a little motivation for next season.’€

There was such an air of certainty about having Papelbon on the mound that his teammates were stunned by the way the lead escaped him.

“It was 0-2, two outs, just waiting and planning on playing tomorrow. Then all of a sudden, one thing led to another and you look back and it was like, ‘€˜Whoa ‘€“ what just happened?’€™” said outfielder Jason Bay. “He’€™s been our guy the entire year. Nobody goes through an entire year being perfect. It just happened it was Game 3, an elimination game in the postseason. But absolutely, we’€™ll take him any day of the week. … I feel bad for Pap, but at the same time, I don’€™t think anyone here looks at him and thinks it’€™s his fault. I think Pap’€™s strong enough to let this one go.”

Papelbon’s pitch count reached 32 when he left the mound, and so manager Terry Francona made the decision to lift him and bring in reliever Hideki Okajima. As Papelbon exited, a first-of-its-kind sound greeted him, as some in Fenway Park booed their closer. Papelbon was not asked if he heard those boos, or if he did, whether that will be part of his motivational postseason reel. Some of his teammates, however, did take umbrage at the treatment of the closer.

“I think [the booing] surprised everybody,” said Lester. “I don’€™t think he deserves for [the fans] to do that. Obviously, it wasn’€™t everybody. You could tell that. But the few people that did [boo him], I personally think it was uncalled for. But that’€™s the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully we can come back next year and do better.”

If that is to happen, Papelbon would likely have to play a major role in the development. It would be no surprise if he proved capable of doing so, after a season in which – despite some struggles, he went 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA and went 38-for-41 in regular-season save opportunities. All the same, after allowing his first October runs, his aura of playoff invincibility has been changed. The 0.00 that greeted his entrance, and that Papelbon admitted prior to the series was “extremely dear” to him, is gone, and with it, so is the 2009 season of the Red Sox.

Papelbon appreciated his teammates’ support afterward.

Papelbon said he feels like he let the whole team down.

Papelbon said this will be motivation for next season.

Papelbon said this loss will stick with him.

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon,

Figgins to Fenway ghosts: ‘not this time’

10.11.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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Angels third baseman Chone Figgins watched from his defensive position as a door next to the ‘379’ marker in center field opened during the bottom of the ninth inning, after the Angels had taken their 7-6 lead.

Figgins said he had a conversation with Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale, whom Figgins has known since his days in the minors.

“It’s funny, we saw that door open, and the third base coach tells me, ‘You know the ghosts just opened the door.’ And I said, ‘Nah, not this time.’ I was like like close that door so we can close all this,” Figgins said. “Get three outs and let’s take it home.”

Indeed, the Angels had a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth and eliminated the Red Sox in a three-game sweep.

Read More: Angels, Figgins, Red Sox,

Lester on Booing Papelbon: ‘It Was Uncalled For’

10.11.09 at 5:44 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Jon Lester admitted that he was “absolutely” surprised to hear fans booing Jonathan Papelbon after the Red Sox closer suffered a loss by allowing the first runs of his postseason career as the Sox got eliminated, 7-6, in Game 3 of the ALDS by the Angels. Papelbon entered the game with a 5-2 lead and two outs in the eighth. He allowed both inherited runners to score, and then after retiring the Angels (via a pickoff throw) in the eighth, allowed three more runs in the ninth to end his record-setting run of 26 scoreless postseason innings to start his career.

“I think [the booing] surprised everybody,” said Lester. “I don’€™t think he deserves for [the fans] to do that. Obviously, it wasn’€™t everybody. You could tell that. But the few people that did [boo him], I personally think it was uncalled for. But that’€™s the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully we can come back next year and do better.”

Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein suggested that the fans were likely “booing at the situation, more than at the guy. He’s been a big part of our success. He didn’t have it today. There were a lot of frustrated people out there. I would be shocked if they were booing him, personally. They were probably booing the situation.”

Read More: booing, Jonathan Papelbon,

Pedroia: ‘We all think of this year as a failure’

10.11.09 at 5:34 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia drove in the first two runs of Sunday’s game but felt frustrated afterward as he and his Red Sox teammates watched as the Angels scored three times with two outs and none on in the ninth to rally to a 7-6 win, eliminating the Sox from the postseason.

“It kind of happened real fast,” Pedroia said. “We played as hard as we could. Tough way to end, obviously. We all think of this year as a failure so best thing we can do is work extremely hard in the offseason and get ready for next year.”

Pedroia added that he felt for closer Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed all three ninth inning runs.

“That’s why that’s the toughest job in baseball,” Pedroia said. “If you save it, you’re supposed to do that. If you don’t, everyone points the finger but there’s no one we’d rather have the ball but him.”

Read More: Angels, Pedroia, Red Sox,

Bay Contemplates ‘Uneasy’ Future

10.11.09 at 5:27 pm ET
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Speaking after the Red Sox‘ stunning 7-6 loss in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay said that it was “very weird” to think about the possibility that he’d played his last home game in Boston. Bay will become a free agent in just a few weeks, the first time in his career that he will be able to experience an open market for his services.

Bay made clear that he would love to return, but he also suggested that there are other places where he would consider playing if that’s what the offseason has in store.

“I’€™ve gotten this far down the process, but there isn’€™t a ton of other places,” said Bay. “This would be, I can’€™t say it’€™s the only place in the world, but it’€™s definitely one of, which makes it tough to think that this might have been it.”

Bay’s predominant feeling was the oddness that he might no longer play for the Red Sox in 2010.

“That’€™s the tough part for me. I don’€™t really know what’€™s going on,” said Bay. “It’€™s weird. Every year, whether it’€™s the postseason or regular season that ends, you kind of know where you’€™re going to be. This is uncharted for me. It’€™s a little uneasy. I don’€™t know whether it’€™s the last time I’€™ll be in here or not, but I guess I’€™m not the first guy to go through it.

“I’€™ve pretty much loved every minute of [playing in Boston],” he continued. “I’€™ve been here for roughly a year and a half. The quickest year and a half I’€™ve ever had in the big leagues. That’€™s a good thing. … It’€™s been everything ‘€“ the fans, the whole experience has been very, very positive. There isn’€™t really a lot of negatives that I can draw from being here, which makes it, once again, tough not knowing my situation and if I’€™ll have a chance to be back or not.”

For more on the potential market for Bay this offseason, click here.

Read More: jason bay,

Theo: ‘We got outplayed’

10.11.09 at 5:13 pm ET
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Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein gave credit to the Los Angeles Angels following his team’s shocking 7-6 loss on Sunday at Fenway Park that eliminated them from the postseason.

“I think we got outplayed in this series,” Epstein said. “We didn’t play our baseball. We didn’t play all that well, all things told, over these last three games and they certainly did. They deserve it. They outplayed us fair and square and they deserve to move on. You have to be a really good team and play really well to move on in the playoffs. We didn’t play well in this series.”

To hear Epstein speak with reporters, click here.

Here is the complete transcript after what Epstein described as “certainly an unexpected conclusion to the series and the season.” (Epstein said that today was not the day to discuss what the future might hold; he will address that on another day.)

What do you take from this? The randomness of a short series?

That sounds like a crutch.

We got outplayed in this series. We didn’€™t play our best baseball. We didn’€™t play all that well, all things told, over these last three games, and they certainly did. They deserve it. They outplayed us fiar and square and they deserve to move on.

You have to be a really good team and play really well to advance in the playoffs. We didn’€™t play well.

Going forward, are there things that you react to from those three games?

Maybe some nuances, but nothing new. Only things that were reflected earlier in the season as well.

You can’€™t make decisions based on any three games. I don’€™t think anything that occurred in this series came completely out of the blue, either. There were times this year when we struggled hitting on the road. There were times this series when we struggled hitting on the road. There were certain things that went down this series were foreshadowed during the regular season as well. That said, I think we were a team capable of winning the World Series. Had we come out and played better, I think we’€™d still be playing right now.

Were you shocked to watch the lead disappear?

It’€™s a surprise because our bullpen is strong. We had a nice lead. We had the shadows, a little bit of momentum. They scrapped hard in the late innings, and we weren’€™t able to put guys away. We had a lot of guys 0-2, two strikes, and just weren’€™t able to put guys away, didn’€™t make a couple plays. They had good at-bats when they needed to. They made the plays.

They deserve the credit.

How long will this linger?

It kind of always lingers. You always find your mind going back to postseasons past, the last game, always. I still think about ‘€™03, I think about 2005, I think about last year and now I’€™ll think about this. You don’€™t find yourself too often thinking about a Tuesday game in Seattle in April. These are the ones you think about, just as the time you win series, those stay in your memory bank. So do these. It’€™s part of life, part of reality in baseball and in the postseason: things can end quickly.

Do you look at the trend line — World Series in ’07, ALCS in ’08, ALDS in ’09 — and see a downward trend?

No. No. The way I look at it, we’€™ve had two three-year runs in the postseason. We’€™ve swept the Wrold Series twice. We’€™ve lost in the ALCS in Game 7 twice. And we’€™ve been swept in the first round twice. We couldn’€™t have predicted it at any time. We were prepared to go on a nice long run here.
The goal of this organization is to try to win 95 games if we can in the regular season, get into the postseason, then play our tails off and try to win a World Series. We didn’€™t play well in this series. That’€™s a disappointment. We have to live with that.

What were you thoughts about some in the crowd booing Papelbon?

I didn’€™t hear that. I think they were booing at the situation, more than at the guy. He’s been a big part of our success. He didn’t have it today. There were a lot of frustrated people out there. I would be shocked if they were booing him, personally. They were probably booing the situation, what happened.

What were your impressions of Daniel Bard?

That was an impressive performance by him. He answered whatever questions anyone might still have about him. Maybe he answered some more today. He was knocked down in the draft. Some people didn’€™t think he had big-time makeup. His first postseason, he showed that he does. That was impressive.

Even in a loss, was it encouraging for the organization to see Buchholz’ performance?

Clay pitched well.

We’€™re one organization and we got eliminated from the postseason today, so it wasn’€™t a good day, period.

Clay showed a lot of composure, pitched really well, pitched great with his fastball.

Read More: Angels, Red Sox, Theo Epstein,

Snap judgments from a Red Sox loss

10.11.09 at 4:05 pm ET
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The stars were not aligned for the Red Sox or Jonathan Papelbon.

After getting two outs in the ninth inning, and carrying a two-run lead, Papelbon proceeded to allow single to Erick Aybar, a walk to Chone Figgins, a double by Bobby Abreu, an intentional walk to Torii Hunter and a first-pitch, two-run, game-winning single to Vladimir Guerrero.

The result was a crushing 7-6 Angels’ victory, Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park,  and the end of the Sox’ season.

The season-ending blows from the Angels in the ninth were the first runs allowed by Papelbon in 18 playoff appearances (27 1/3 innings).

Prior to the ninth inning the Red Sox had gotten good-enough pitching from Clay Buchholz, better-than-good relieving from Daniel Bard, and hang-onto-your-seat relieving from Billy Wagner.

Again, before the ninth, helping the Red Sox break out of their offensive doldrums were Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia (RBI), Victor Martinez (RBI), Mike Lowell (RBI) and J.D. Drew, who smacked the Sox’ first home run of the series, a two-run blast in fourth inning off Angels’ starter Scott Kazmir.

Here are some quick thoughts while waiting for post-game reaction:

– Guerrero was sitting on the first-pitch fastball from Papelbon, especially knowing that the Red Sox couldn’t walk him with the bases loaded. Papelbon had given up just one hit in 15 bases-loaded at-bats this season prior to the Vlad single. For his career, the Sox closer had issued two bases-loaded walks in 38 plate appearances in that situation.

– The Red Sox bench wasn’t what they had hoped, having to pitch-hit with Jed Lowrie in the ninth for Alex Gonzalez against Angels closer Brian Fuentes. That would have been Rocco Baldelli — and his .290 batting average against lefties —  if the outfielder had been healthy enough.

– Pedroia had one of the game’s biggest hits, but also made the final out of the season — lining softly to shortstop on a 1-2 pitch. After two games of having the Angels’ live on the outside edge, Pedroia previously took advantage of a middle-of-the-plate fastball from Scott Kazmir for the two-run double off the left-center-field wall. The Sox’ second baseman appeared to be slightly more off the plate than usual, perhaps allowing him to dive into the pitch more while not taking the chance of getting tied up. But he was dramatically out in front of the final Fuentes pitch, which ended the game.

– Papelbon save his pickoffs for the most opportune times, this time notching his third pickoff of his career. With the Angels within one run and Reggie Willits pinch-running at first base, Papelbon got the speedster leaning to end the inning and the threat. It was his second since nabbing Colorado’s Matt Holliday in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series. Papelbon has been working harder in the past few years on his move to first, although the Angels came into the game with more stolen bases (3) against Papelbon than any other Red Sox pitcher this season not named Tim Wakefield.

– Drew, who came into the game just 1-for-7 against Kazmir, provided perhaps the most clutch hit with a line-drive homer over the centerfield wall. During the regular season, just six of the outfielder’s 24 homers came against lefties.

– Buchholz performed admirably, heading into the sixth inning having surrendered just one run. The righty utilized a lively fastball with good location to keep the Angels’ off-balance just enough. He did run into some trouble in the sixth, loading the bases without getting an out before giving way to Bard.

– It seemed as though Bard might have turned in the most important performance of the day, immediately inducing a 5-4-3 double play from Rivera before ending the sixth on a Maicer Izturis pop-up. Bard came back to turn in a 1-2-3 seventh, which included two strikeouts. While Bard’s fastball hit 100 mph, it was his slider which proved the most dangerous. The two pitches, coupled with a shadow looming between the mound and home plate, were too much for Angels hitters.

– The Red Sox’ baserunning had appeared to pay off this time around, as Joey Gathright (pinch-running for David Ortiz), stole second with two outs in the eighth and proceeded to score on Lowell’s single for an insurance run for the Red Sox. Coming into the game, the Red Sox had just three fewer stolen bases (6) than the Angels (9) in the teams’ postseason meetings since 2007. LA notch one stolen base Sunday, by Juan Rivera.

Francona: ‘We Know What’s At Stake’

10.11.09 at 11:12 am ET
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No, Terry Francona did not sleep at the ballpark, but the Red Sox manager has been at Fenway Park since 6:30 a.m., a concession to the scheduled 12:07 p.m. starting time of today’s game. That said, there hasn’t been a whole lot out of the ordinary that Francona has felt compelled to do since getting here.

The lineup changes are minimal. David Ortiz and Jason Bay have been flip-flopped in the order, with Ortiz hitting sixth against left-hander Scott Kazmir and Bay batting fifth. But Francona didn’t feel it necessary to rally the troops over breakfast.

“If I have to go out there and have a meeting today, we’€™re not in good shape. We’€™ve had one meeting all year. Our guys understand what to do. We communicate enough. If I have to go out there and have a Knute Rockne speech, we’€™ll be in trouble,” said Francona. “All year, all the things we talk about ‘€“ that’€™s why we do it. So when we get in these positions, we don’€™t have to fake it. In June, we say we’€™re trying to win today’€™s game, because it’€™s impossible to turn the switches on and off. When you’€™re in situations like now, we feel the same way. That’€™s why we do the things we do.”

A few other subjects upon which Francona touched:

JON LESTER

Lester is set to start in a potential Game 4 after a short box session on Saturday (meaning that Lester threw on flat ground and then off the front slope of the mound). Francona is well aware that recent history suggests that pitchers working on three days of rest have performed poorly. That said, Lester — one of the strongest pitchers on the Red Sox — informed his manager that he feels physically up to the task of pitching on short rest, something that was critical for the Sox to set in motion the plan to have Lester take the mound for a potential Game 4 and Josh Beckett to handle a potential Game 5 should the series return to Southern California.

“I looked at the numbers. Guys coming back on short rest, the majority of the time, it’€™s when guys are on fumes, when you have to do it. When CC [Sabathia] did it last year [with the Brewers], it was phenomenal because he wasn’€™t on fumes,” said Francona. “We just thought this was our best team. And we were pretty open about the fact that we weren’€™t going to do it if he had an extended outing [in Game 1]. This has as much to do with trying to pitch Beckett twice. When we were looking at finagling the rotation the last 10 days of the year, talking to Lester about it, we said, ‘€˜Can you handle this physically? Because if you can’€™t, it’€™s kind of silly.’€™ We can do all the thinking we want, but if it doesn’€™t feel right, it’€™s not going to work.

“A couple years ago, we watched Wake, and everyone was like, ‘€˜You’€™ve got to move Beckett up.’€™ He wasn’€™t ready. When you talk to a pitcher and they say they’€™re not ready, then don’€™t do it. In this instance, he felt real good about it, so it made sense to us.”

Francona said that Lester was removed from Game 1 after 100 pitches in a concession to the fact that the team wanted to have him available for Game 4. Under other circumstances — meaning had the Sox been winning, or if they did not plan to bring Lester back on short rest — he might have pitched beyond his six-inning, three-run workload.

“If we’€™d have been winning we wouldn’€™t have [pulled Lester after six innings]. Then we would have figured it out from there,” said Francona. “Since we were losing, I’€™m not going to make him throw another 20 pitches for nothing.”

DAISUKE MATSUZAKA

Matsuzaka remains available in the bullpen for Game 3 today, since Jon Lester came through his Saturday throwing session without a hitch and is set to pitch Game 4. Matsuzaka has showed no reservations about his role.

“He’€™s gone out and long tossed early and we told him that we’€™re not going to bring him in in the middle of an inning, bases loaded. That’€™s not in his best interest. I’€™m sure he has some anxiety about that, but we’€™ve re-assured him, hey, if we use you, it will be clean innings,” said Francona. “We were pretty open about what we wanted to do in this series. We wanted to use Lester. But again, we wanted to protect ourselves in case Lester had a ball off his leg or a long outing. And we told Dice that going in. He knew kind of what to expect. What it does, it does a couple of things aside from him pitching. It frees us up to use some other guys because he’€™s sitting there maybe behind somebody with a lot of length.

“He was wanting to help out wherever he could. You get to this time of year and most of the time that’€™s what guys do do. I’€™m sure he would love to start. I would hope he would like to. I hope there’€™s a time that he can. We just thought this was in our best interest, that this was our best chance to win.”

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Terry Francona, three days rest
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