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Plenty of contributors in Nats’ comeback win

Jul 22, 2015, 5:57 PM EST

USA Today

As if it wasn’t clear already, the second-inning departure of Yunel Escobar due to injury gave the Nats yet another reminder that if they are to win games these days, they are going to have to do so without the contributions of some of their biggest names.

Escobar exited with a left wrist injury, another scary moment in a season full of them. But afterwards, it was the bottom of their lineup, Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa who stepped up to secure a series victory over the rival New York Mets.

Taylor had two RBI singles to drive in three total runs. Ian Desmond, who batted seventh, scored twice and had two hits and two walks. Eight-hole hitter Matt den Dekker scored the fourth run in their 4-3 win and ended with a single and three walks. Espinosa drove in the go-ahead run.

That is certainly not the way the Nationals drew it up before the season but, hey, they’ll take it.

“Opportunity. That’s what they’re looking for, the opportunity to show us and everybody else what they can do,” Matt Williams said. “They’ve stepped up. It wasn’t the plan, for sure, but nonetheless they’ve contributed and we’re at where we’re at.”

The Nats surely planned to have Desmond be a big contributor this season, but up until lately he hadn’t produced much of anything. Now Desmond has reached base in seven out of his last 10 plate appearances.

“That’s the key with Desi. If he sees it well, then he lays off the bad pitches and he’s able to do stuff like that,” Williams said. “Hit balls over the fence, get basehits and walk and cause havoc on the bases as well. I like where he’s at right now. He’s seeing the ball well.”

Taylor brought Desmond home twice, first in the fourth inning and again in the eighth. The second hit also scored den Dekker and tied the game at 3-3.

Afterwards he described his approach to the at-bat against Mets reliever Bobby Parnell.

“I just tried to step out of the box and take my time more than I probably would normally. I’m looking for a certain pitch in that situation, so just have to try to be as patient as possible,” Taylor said. “That was a big change in the game.”

Taylor has an unusual split this season based on whether runners are on base. With no runners he is hitting .198 (32-for-162). With runners he is batting .389 (21-for-54) with 30 RBI.

“For me, when he gets in those situations he doesn’t try to do too much,” Williams added. “He’s not looking for a three-run homer, he’s looking for a basehit.”

“It’s heart. I think he wants it more than the next guy. It’s been fun to watch. Hopefully there’s a lot more of it,” Desmond said.

Espinosa – another fill-in due to injury – delivered the game-winning hit against Parnell in the next at-bat. He roped a double down the line and into the corner in left field. That scored Taylor from second, after the rookie stole a base following his 2-RBI hit.

The clutch hits from Taylor and Espinosa represented a breakthrough for the Nats on this particular day. Before the eighth inning they were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and had left 10 stranded on-base.

The Nats kept pushing forward and came away with an important victory in the NL East.

“The fact that we had a chance to come back in this game shows that we don’t give up,” Williams said. “We create opportunities for ourselves and we can come through. If we don’t have those [10] runners, then we can’t strand them. That’s a good sign for us that we have guys on the basepaths. That’s what we want.”

“We got a team built on character guys and today was a perfect example of that,” Desmond said.

  1. natsguy - Jul 22, 2015 at 6:24 PM

    Considering what they are playing with this team is the “Miracle Nats”. With everybody hurt they are not a particularly talented team. But they are winning.

  2. natsjackinfl - Jul 22, 2015 at 6:28 PM

    Note to Chase. When your lead off hitter is Michael Taylor and your second hitter is Danny Espinosa, that would constitute the Top of the order, not the bottom.

    • npb99 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:25 PM

      Read it again: it’s a sequence. Or to put it differently: bottom of the lineup plus Taylor plus Espi.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:06 AM

        ” it was the bottom of their lineup, Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa who stepped up”

        That’s why G-d created the Oxford comma.

  3. zmunchkin - Jul 22, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    I did some searching to see if there was a place that showed how many games a team was able to have all its expected/regular position players in the starting lineup. I could not find one. Being a geek/data guy I decided to do a quick and dirty analysis based on the dates players went on/off the DL. I included Werth, Span, Rendon and Zimmerman.

    Between April 6 and today, there are 108 days. Note that I counted days, not games (am not patient enough to look at or try to capture box scores for each day.

    Here is the summary of days on the DL for each of those 4:

    – Werth 76
    – Span 30
    – Rendon 88
    – Zimmerman 43

    The more interesting number is how many days we have had 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of them on the DL:

    – 1: 31
    – 2: 41
    – 3: 20
    – 4: 16

    In other works, we have had 3 or 4 of them on the DL for a third of season (20+16=26 out of 108). And less a third of the season with only one guy on the DL.

    I knew it was bad, but not this bad.

    I’m amazed they have done as well as they have.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 22, 2015 at 6:36 PM

      Sorry for the obvious typos (again, we need an edit button).

      In other words, we have had 3 or 4 of them on the DL for a third of season (20+16=36 out of 108).

      Note also that I did not adjust the days for the All-Star break as this was intended to be a quick and dirty analysis.

      • conatsguy - Jul 22, 2015 at 7:23 PM

        Thanks for the number crunching Z. I knew the amt of DL time was significant, but nice to see the data to prove it. natsguy was right- Miracle Nats!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 8:02 PM

        Good stuff. Add to that the days those players were on the roster and didnt play or weren’t productive as they were playing hurt.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:20 PM

        excellent analysis as usual ZM.
        I agree that most teams can weather 1-2 starting injuries for a substantial part of the year, but you can’t hide 3-5 players for too long.
        Gotta credit Espi and MAT for covering the holes but eventually the dutchmen can’t hold their fingers in too many holes in the dike.
        And we’ve had a few games like today with 5 starters out.

    • natsdial8 - Jul 22, 2015 at 7:28 PM

      Somewhere in media I think I heard Nats have lost 600 plus games to injuries .

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 22, 2015 at 7:50 PM

        According to some posters here, the Nats have lost 600 games. Period.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 22, 2015 at 8:03 PM

        As I said below Eugene, that is not a terribly useful or interesting number. Of those 600 games, close to 300 of them are Reed Johnson, Nate McClouth and Craig Stammen. As to the time Fister and Strasburg spent on the DL, I don’t think the numbers are adjusted for games they were not scheduled to pitch.

        A number like man-games lost, without the proper context and understanding, is not terribly useful IMO.

        I guarantee you that if you were to ask a manager which he would prefer:

        – 1000 man-games lost by his bench
        – 500 man-games lost by his starting position players

        He would pick the 1000. But if you look at the sites that report this metric, they show the team with 1000 man-games lost as worse off.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 22, 2015 at 8:20 PM

        Sorry, I was trying to make a (poor) joke. I actually tend to agree with your analysis.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:58 PM

        Thx for clarifying Eugene. Sorry that I misinterpreted your point.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:15 AM

        “But if you look at the sites that report this metric, they show the team with 1000 man-games lost as worse off.”

        Not all of them.
        http://www.mangameslost.com/category/mlb/ does include them all, and they should be included at some level, but it’s not the same as a starter. But they weight the players’ impact on the team, which is always going to require a certain amount of guesswork.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 22, 2015 at 7:44 PM

      That sounds about right. But the issue I have with how many sites count/report that metric is they don’t distinguish between position players and pitchers. And they don’t distinguish between whether a pitcher is a starter or a relief pitcher.

      Missing a starting pitcher for 15 days is not the same as missing a position player for 15 days. One impacts three games; the other 15 games.

      Likewise missing a starter weakens your lineup and your bench; while missing a backup only weakens your bench. So counting days for a bench guy the same a days for a starter is a non sequitur IMO.

      • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 8:06 PM

        As I noted in the game thread, I decided, on the spur of the moment, being a slow day at work, and that today was my one year ante-versary until my retirement, to hop on stubhub, get myself a ticket, and walk to the game (about 1.5 miles).

        My daughter, the Wonkling, was stuck somewhere in Maryland, but was able to get to a TV and was watching it, and sent a couple of funny texts (the kind that a loving/fanatic teenager daughter might send).

        Check these out — I find them a combination of hilarious/adorable. (Or, maybe I just think that because I’m her dad)



      • zmunchkin - Jul 22, 2015 at 8:08 PM

        Like!

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:45 PM

        wonk

        Great exchange with your daughter!

        zmunchkin

        Since you asked about calculating losses to injuries–have you seen this website:

        http://www.mangameslost.com/category/mlb/mlb-2015-season/

        They give totals both for days lost, and for impact of the lost players. I haven’t looked into the guts of the calculations, so can’t speak to their value. But for impact, they do attempt to take into account the quality of the players. And their calculations do treat pitchers and position players differently (and I think, bench players and starters differently).

      • natsdial8 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:47 PM

        i guess one can slice and dice but it is a heck of a lot of lost games .

      • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:08 PM

        Thanks, HH.

        I just saw my daughter this evening, and she told me what the three OMG’s was:

        Sometime last week I showed her a clip of a game where the Cards had scored in the top of the 14th inning, and then McCutcheon (a player she respects) hit a 2 run walk-off. MLB showed the clip three times. One of the times, the color-announcer (I think it was the Pirates’ radio team) was just stunned and was saying, sort of in the background, “OMG OMG OMG”. We were commenting to each other how weak that was for a professional announcer, and how much better the DC guys are (especially Charlie and Dave).

        Anyways . . . so she slipped in some humor (that went over her father’s head) by imitating that call when Taylor got the hit.

        Have I mentioned that I love baseball and having a team here in DC lately? 😉

      • zmunchkin - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:57 PM

        Hiram,

        Yea. I know about that site. And I did look briefly at his algorithm for his TMITT metric. It is (IMO) a somewhat naïve attempt to measure the impact of the games a player misses. It does have some adjustments for how often a player played (at least that is what I think the metric is). But it is simply one person’s guess.

        As someone with formal training and background in analytics, I prefer to use more objective metrics and factor into that the concept of business knowledge (in this case which players are missing). For example, this site gives too much weight to how many players are lost and does not (again IMO) weight them appropriately.

        I am an advocate of combining more objective metrics with subject/business knowledge. And that is why I think a better metric to measure the impact on the Nats is the number of games where they missed a number of their regulars. And I will leave it to others to decide how to interpret the numbers.

        For example, this site claims the Mets are worse off injury wise that the Nats – and if you dig into the details it is because they have a lot more marginal/bench players on the DL than the Nats so.

        Bottom line: data analysis is as much art as it is science. And you really can’t reduce things to a single metric/number.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:19 AM

        I should read down before answering comments above, shouldn’t I?

      • zmunchkin - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:53 AM

        :-).

        Another concern I have with the site is the way the graphs are constructed. The natural tendency is to think that the upper right is the worst. But given how the metrics are constructed the Y axis is much more important. The upper right is same impact as the upper left. The difference is how many man-games were missed. And one could argue that the X axis does nothing by mask that information. Constructing visual displays of data that are clear and don’t cause the viewer to come to the wrong conclusions is hard to do. The graph on that site is a classic case. I try to take a pretty critical view of such graphs, but that issue did not occur to me for quite a while.

  4. lowstrikes - Jul 22, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    Sincerely sad for Yunel’s pain. That guy has been a joy to watch all season. Himself, Espi, Taylor, the Lobaton – all stepping up so consistently. It is tempting to begin to look ahead to late August and into September. I expect to see this thing in a whole new gear. Span, Werth, Rendon, Zimmerman, Strasburg…motivated, rested, and back in form…(((shivers!))). But I’ll never forget these guys that are holding the fort against big odds. What a season.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 22, 2015 at 7:51 PM

      +1

  5. nattygoats - Jul 22, 2015 at 8:46 PM

    5 hours later and I’m still excited about this one.

    • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:08 PM

      +4 !

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 8:57 PM

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v282253083/nymwsh-taylor-knocks-in-two-to-tie-the-game-in-8th/?game_pk=415066

    Look at the secondary lead of den Dekker. That’s impressive.

    The National Reserves are getting it done once again. MAT, den Dekker, and Espinosa were keys to the victory.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:09 PM

    http://m.mlb.com/news/article/138004138/competitive-balance-lottery-gives-draft-picks

    The Padres and Orioles and DBacks should not be getting extra Draft Picks.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:28 PM

      My thoughts exactly, plus I would add the Rockies to that ‘no extra pick’ list.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:34 PM

        We all know that Tampa is the poorest team and has a lousy stadium and a small fanbase with little hope of a good TV deal.

        So many teams on that list are killing it. The Orioles are a cha-ching machine with MASN and the only reason they qualify for Revenue Sharing is because their MASN profit is not subject to be included as “Team Income”. It’s not right and it basically allows them to circumvent the rules. They have to close that loophole. Not only do they get revenue sharing, they get a free Draft Pick!

      • Dave - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:19 AM

        I hate the Orioles. Haven’t typed it on a comment section this week yet, but there it is. I bloody hate them.

    • conatsguy - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:45 PM

      Wow! Good link. Does the MASN deal get included in the Orioles revenue calculation?

      I agree with Eugene on the Rockies. Coors field is a huge revenue generating machine. Monford is more interested in building party decks in the right field bleachers than invest in the on field product. Kyle Kendicks as the “big” free agent investment? So happy the Nats ownership wanted to be competitive on the field!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:53 PM

        Only the annual rights fees get included. They can exclude the entire profit made. This is one reason they don’t want the new Nats deal to go through as the Orioles have a stipulation in the original contract that says the Orioles must receive the same annual rights fee as the Nats. If they do that, they lose their “small market status” as that extra amount will push them just over the hump. They will lose their revenue sharing they receive from the biggest clubs plus the competitive round pick.

        It’s another reason they are fighting like heck to kill the Nats in court.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:53 PM

        Does MASN get included?

        Yes and no. The Os make $$$ off MASN in 2 ways, and only one counts towards their revenue pool.

        1. MASN pays each team to broadcast its games. That gets counted.

        2. MASN also pays out profits to its owners–with the Os being the majority owners. That doesn’t get counted.

        That’s why the Os have an interest in keeping the broadcast fees low and the profits high. It makes them look poorer in MLB’s calculations, while allowing them to collect a majority of MASN’s profits.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:54 PM

        Great minds, thinking alike–but as the slower mind, I owe you a virtual beer.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:00 PM

        so the Nats and Os currently get the same amount of broadcast moneys while the Os get 80% of the MASN profit ?
        If the MASN profit doesn’t count, then their main reason to fight is to not lose their disproportionate share of their profits and not because they somehow get pushed over small market status correct ??
        Regardless of their percentage of MASN profits, they will continue to get a small market designation correct ??

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:08 PM

        Yes, that’s right. It’s a Frankenstein monster and not viable over the long term, but it will have served its purpose, to pay off Angelos not to fight relocation.

        When it does die, tho, Angelos and the Os probably get paid off again, one way or the other.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:12 PM

        thanks gentlemen…yes, i’m sure the O’s will get paid off after the gravy train runs down, but so long as it doesn’t cost the Nats anymore.
        I would tell the SOB, to keep your small market status, you got to play fair with Washington wrt MASN.

      • conatsguy - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:37 PM

        Thanks for all the info. It is truly appreciated
        Can’t believe this does not get brought up by the mainstream sports media. Keith Olbermann would have a field day with this stuff. Wilborn and Kornheiser could throw this info out too (prior to draft).

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 23, 2015 at 5:46 AM

        The Orioles don’t want their fans to know the truth. They have been a cash cow easily able to have spent more money in the past.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:24 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/07/22/jayson-werth-makes-headlines-in-buffalo-with-monster-tip/

    This is one good story about Jayson Werth. He made this girl’s day. Also goes on to talk about travel ball and this is why you have so many arm injuries:

    “And kind of one thing I see is pitching the kids too much,” Werth said. “There was a kid the other day, he threw 120 pitches in a 13u game. I mean, that’s close to criminal. It’s really been eye-opening to see that level of baseball and what’s going on around the area. It’s been a joy, though, seeing my kid play and all his friends. Man, just enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.”

    • natsdial8 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:50 PM

      i guess one can slice and dice but it is a heck of a lot of lost games .

    • natsdial8 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:51 PM

      Nice post Ghost . Honestly it is the first complimentary comments I’ve ever heard about Werth .

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:57 PM

        I don’t think he’s a bad guy. But he sure behaves like a raging a$$hole towards Dan Kolko.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:14 PM

        There’s some nice pics of Jayson here and he even smiles in a few!

        https://instagram.com/explore/tags/jaysonwerth/

      • therealjohnc - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:15 AM

        FWIW, I have friends who have kids in the same soccer league as Werth’s kids and they speak very highly of Werth. They say he’s a bit standoffish (will watch the game from a distance) but that when he interacts with other parents he’s fine. The vibe they get is simply that he’s an introvert, and that he wants to be there for his kids but doesn’t want to be the center of attention.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:17 AM

        And the think with Dan Kolko is pretty much locker room stuff because Kolko is about the player’s age and so is viewed less formally than other media members, etc. Remember the alcohol shower and “there is no wrong pipe!” stuff? The “you go, Dan Kolko” is simply a “mean girls” cultural reference that most of us are too old for.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 23, 2015 at 1:12 PM

        Appreciate the feedback, John.

        Re: Kolko, I wasn’t thinking primarily of the mean girls thing, which I thought was funny at the time–once the reference was explained to me.

        There was one game last year or early this–it all blends together in an aging mind–where Werth went out of his way to douse Kolko when they were showering a post-game interviewee on the field. Kolko wasn’t just collateral damage, and it wasn’t a beer/champagne free for all.

        And there was a locker room interview when he answered a question from Kolko in a way that seemed overly hostile and dismissive. I don’t remember it being a particularly dumb question–many are–but this answer seemed unusually sharp, even for Werth.

        To me, this smacked of an older and cooler kid in the pack publicly picking on a younger/weaker member.

        But perhaps I’m just working too hard to connect the dots.

    • natsfan1a - Jul 23, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      Thanks for the link.

  9. dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:32 PM

    it seems the nats have to make a quick decision to put escobar on the DL. they can’t play with Moore and Burriss as only one backup for the outfield and one for the infield

    • drazthegr8 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

      Rendon 3 for 3 today. I think we’ll see him up very soon.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:10 PM

        Batting .700 at Potomac (7-10)…indeed

      • therealjohnc - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:18 AM

        I think he’s mastered the level (although it’s hard to tell quality of contact from a box score).

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 23, 2015 at 10:27 AM

        and the small sample size.

  10. rlndtln - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:41 PM

    Lets wait to hear the results of MRI.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:43 PM

      of course, but in my not so humble opinion, i don’t think they can afford to put him day to day unless they plan on moving Rendon up in Pittsburgh

    • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

      Yunel’s injury video….can you really do too much damage with that kind of swing ?

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2015/07/22/nationals-yunel-escobar-leaves-game-apparent-injury/30518181/

      • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:21 PM

        That was weird at the Park — we all just assumed he got hit.

        And then he got up, walked around in obvious pain, spoke with the traner, and eventually picked up his bat for the next pitch — on which he hit a screaming liner foul down the third base line, and then immediately starting walking to the dugout.

  11. dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:41 PM

    And Chapman gives up his first run since June 8th….sell now reds 😉

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:15 PM

      It wasn’t a Save situation and he didn’t pitch well. Lucky to give up just 1 run.

  12. rlndtln - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:43 PM

    Rendon 3-3.Get him to pittsburgh asap.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

      thanks….was wondering how he and Werth are doing

    • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:16 PM

      3-3 ?!

      I’m looking at his MiLB page, and I’m thinking: in this rehab stint he’s played four games with Harrisburg, and has gone 7-for-10.

      Any minute now? . . .

    • ArVAFan - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:18 PM

      Last time I checked, there are several forms of transportation that would get Rendon to Pittsburgh–including, if necessary, private plane. We’ll be in Pittsburgh for the Friday & Saturday games (Nats destination trip), so it would be awesome to welcome Tony Two-Bags back to the lineup. It would also be awesome to see Bryce hit water without falling out of a boat, while I’m wishing!

  13. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:18 PM

    “X-rays were negative” is standard Nats med-speak. Many wrist/hamate fractures are hairline, won’t show up on x-rays but hurt and are treat much the same as “visible” breaks.

    There’s an injury exception that will allow them to bring Difo up less than ten days after he was optioned. Wouldn’t be surprised if he meets them at the bus terminal in Pittsburgh. I’d be thrilled to see them bring up Turner but the timing the day after Desmond gets on base four times is wrong. Rendon may be ready to return but several days of DHing isn’t the way to prove it.

  14. adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:23 PM

    Sheesh — not only do we lose Esco’s hitting, but he’s the only one preventing Harper from getting walked even more than he has been lately.

  15. adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    Other tidbits:

    Mets didn’t get a single baserunner after the 5th inning.

    Storen was 0-2 on two batters in the ninth, before going 3-2, and then getting the strike out. (On the other guy, he was also 0-2 and should have gone 3-2, but the ump gave a generous strike).

    Yikes!!

    • adcwonk - Jul 22, 2015 at 10:54 PM

      And I guess I should add: none of the pitches that were strike three in the 9th inning were over the plate!

      And, finally: any talk about Harper’s hand?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 23, 2015 at 5:48 AM

        Silence on Harper.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 23, 2015 at 8:49 AM

        Complete silence on Harper. Can’t find mention of it. MW was asked at the presser and he said he was fine. I’ll feel better when I see him swing. If I remember correctly Ramos’ Hammate barked for a few days before it got to the point he had to go DL last year on Opening Day.

        What really concerned me was that Harper had been hitting without gloves all day including the AB where he started grabbing the hand. When he came to bat in the 8th he had a glove on that hand.

      • adcwonk - Jul 23, 2015 at 8:52 AM

        gulp . . .

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