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Bisons rained out in series finale; Harvey's next start pushed back to Wednesday

The Bisons' series finale with Rochester was rained out Monday night in Coca-Cola Field as the teams waited 75 minutes but heavy rain that started about 20 minutes before the scheduled 6:05 first pitch simply did not let up.

The postponement will be made up during the Red Wings' other trip to Buffalo this season, meaning the Aug. 25-28 series will now be a five-gamer. So the Bisons finish April 14-10 and lose out on the chance to equal the franchise record for wins in the opening month, as we talked about earlier this evening.

The Bisons will push their pitching rotation back a day. That means Garrett Olson will start Tuesday night's series opener against Syracuse while top Mets prospects Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia will go Wednesday and Thursday instead of Tuesday and Wednesday.

Harvey has been lights-out in his last two starts, posting a 2.08 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings while winning both games.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Bisons look to finish April with four-game sweep

The Buffalo Bisons go for the four-game sweep of the Rochester Red Wings tonight in Coca-Cola Field and there's several things at stake:

---The Herd is 14-10, one shy of its modern-era record for wins in April set five times previously (last in 2003).

---The Bisons will be gunnning for their first five-game winning streak since taking eight straight since August,  2010.

---The Bisons are a game out of first place in the IL North, a spot they have not had a piece of since May 28, 2010. They could get there tonight with a win and a Pawtucket loss at Columbus, where the PawSox have dropped the first three games of their series.

---Buffalo has not swept a four-game set against its Thruway rivals since April 26-29, 2004 at Frontier Field.

Garrett Olson (0-1, 2.82) starts for Buffalo tonight with a dramatically different lineup. Zach Lutz is back from New York (Raul Reyes was sent to Binghamton and there are a few other changes. Vinny Rottino, riding an 11-game hitting streak, is keeping his No. 2 slot in the lineup by serving as catcher tonight for the first time this season. Fred Lewis making his Buffalo debut in left field and Dustin Martin is making his second appearance, his first in center field. Here's the lineup:

Bobby Scales, 2b
Vinny Rottino, c
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Fred Lewis, lf
Zach Lutz, 1b
Dustin Martin, cf
Matt Tuiasosopo, rf
Brad Eamus,  3b
Omar Quintanilla, ss
---
Garrett Olson, p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Durham Bulls no-hit for 13th straight loss in stunning collapse of longtime IL power

What in the world is going on with the Durham Bulls?

They are 6-18, have lost 13 straight games and were victimized by a three-pitcher no-hitter Sunday in a 2-0 loss to Indianapolis! Remember, this is about the most dominant team in the International League in recent years. 

Durham has won 10 IL South titles since 1998, including five in a row, and three Governors' Cups (2002 over the Bisons, 2003 and 2009). The Bulls were certainly hoping to win another this year and get to the Triple-A National Championship Game, which they will be hosting in September for the first time.

Looks like that's not going to happen. It appears all those great Tampa Bay pitching prospects are finally in the big leagues and the well has run dry. The Bulls have the worst pitching in the IL with a 5.91 ERA and are already 11 games out of first place with the calendar still in April.

They opened the season with seven games at home and went 5-2. Everything seemed normal. Then they embarked on a 14-game road trip and the horns fell off the Bull with a 1-13 record that saw losses in the final 10 games.  The team ERA on the trip was a ghastly 7.60.

The collapse continued when they got home. They're dropped three straight to Indianapolis. They were demolished, 13-2, on Friday and blanked, 2-0, on Saturday. Then came the low moment Sunday, the first no-hitter against the Bulls ever at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Feel bad for three-year Buffalo outfielder Jesus Feliciano, who signed with Tampa over the winter and is now stuck with a team as bad as the '09 outfit in Buffalo. Feliciano is batting .273.

(The Bisons, by the way, play all eight of their games against Durham in a 12-game stretch that doesn't begin until June 22. Too bad the Herd can't get the Bulls now when they're cold. Instead, they'll play eight in May against red-hot Gwinnett).

Durham's Reid Brignac, who has had stints in Tampa, made the last out of the no-no on a slow roller to second base. Watch the video below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Herd tries to go fourth against Wings ace

The Bisons look for their first four-game winning streak when they host the Rochester Red Wings today in sunny (but chilly) Coca-Cola Field. Dylan Owen (1-1), who homered in his last start Monday in Lehigh Valley, is on the mound for Herd against Rochester's Scott Diamond, who leads the International League with four wins and is second with a 1.07 ERA.

Andres Torres has returned to the Mets off his rehab assignment and should play Monday in Houston. Bobby Scales, still the IL's batting leader at .400, is back in the leadoff spot today replacing Torres. Scales is one of five Bisons riding season-high hit streaks; Valentino Pascucci leads the way at 12 games, Vinny Rottino is at 10, Scales is at six, while Josh Satin and Omar Quintanilla are at five.

Here's today's Buffalo lineup:

Bobby Scales, 2b
Vinny Rottino, lf
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Josh Satin, 1b
Matt Tuiasosopo, rf
Brad Eamus,  3b (making his season debut)
Raul Reyes, cf
Lucas May, c
Omar Quintanilla, ss
---
Dylan Owen, p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Hefner returns to the Bisons

Righty Jeremy Hefner returns to the Buffalo Bisons after making his Major League debut with the New York Mets last Monday. Hefner three three shutout innings of relief for the Mets agianst San Francisco. He is 2-1 in three starts with the Herd and his 1.96 earned run average is the sixth best in the International League.

Buffalo won the opener of the four-game series with Rochester at Coca-Cola Field Friday night, 7-3. Today's 1:05 p.m. game puts Hefner on the mound against Red Wings righty P.J. Walters (2-1, 3.38 ERA).

The Herd's lineup:

Andres Torres -- CF
Bobby Scales -- 2B
Valentino Pascucci -- DH
Josh Satin -- 1B
Vinny Rottino -- LF
Matt Tuiasosopo -- 3B
Dustin Martin -- RF
Lucas May -- C
Omar Quintanilla -- SS

--- Amy Moritz 

Bisons fans miss out on Harper visit as Nationals issue surprising recall of top prospect

I've gotten several emails already this season and I know fans who had marked their calendars for Tuesday night, when phenom Bryce Harper was scheduled to be with the Syracuse Chiefs for the opener of a four-game series with the Bisons in Coca-Cola Field.

The media's calendars were marked too; the Bisons were working with the Chiefs to arrange a pregame press conference with Harper, the power-hitting No. 1 pick from the 2010 draft. And it turns out the Buffalo starter Tuesday is going to be Matt Harvey, the red-hot top Mets pick from 2010.

Alas, it won't happen. The 19-year-old outfielder who is baseball's best prospect has hardly been lighting it up at Triple-A but Harper is making his big-league debut tonight for the Washington Nationals in Los Angeles after Ryan Zimmerman landed on the DL. Former TBN Sports intern Amanada Comak, now a Nationals beat writer, has the full story in the Washington Times. 

Fellow phenom Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound for the 9:10 ET game, which will be shown on MLB Network.

Harper was batting .250 with one homer and four RBIs. Harper's only home run was against the Bisons, in the opener of a doubleheader Sunday in Syracuse. It was his 67th Triple-A at-bat and came off fellow mega prospect Jeurys Familia. Check it out below.

There had been some talk in spring training about keeping Harper in the big leagues and skipping Triple-A but that seemed foolish with Washington in development mode. But the Nats have quickly pushed into winning mode with their fast start and my antenna went up when I noted that GM Mike Rizzo was in Rochester watching Harper this week, as good friend of the blog Jim Mandelaro wrote in the Rochester D&C. Why would the big-league GM do that in April? Clearly, this was on the docket.

Bummer.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Bisons open homestand with new faces

The Buffalo Bisons return to Coca-Cola Field and open a four-game series with Rochester tonight. After a 4-2 road trip, the Herd returned to town with some new faces. Among them, centerfielder Andres Torres who will leadoff for the Herd tonight.

Torres joined the Bisons on a Major League rehabilitation assignment. He suffered a left calf strain in his first game with the New York Mets on April 5 and went on the disabled list April 6. Torres was acquired by the Mets in the offseason from the San Francisco Giants.

In three games with Single-A St. Lucie this week, he hit .333. He is expected to be in Buffalo today and Saturday.

Also activated by the Bisons were outfielder Fred Lewis and infielder Brad Emaus, both signed by the Mets to minor league deals on Wednesday.

Starting on the mound for the Herd is righty Jeurys Familia. On Sunday, he struck out out eight in five innings for a 6-1 win over Syracuse.

Today's Buffalo lineup:

Andres Torres -- CF
Bobby Scales -- 2B 
Valentino Pascucci -- DH
Josh Satin -- 1B
Vinny Rottino -- LF
Matt Tuiasosopo -- 3B
Raul Reyes -- RF
Lucas May -- C
Omar Quintanilla -- SS

--- Amy Moritz 

Go to the video: Herd pitchers take Pigs deep

The Buffalo Bisons have received quality starts in seven of their last nine games and they've also gotten surprising contributions at the plate. Matt Harvey and Dylan Owen each belted home runs during the three-game series at Lehigh Valley -- after Buffalo did not get a home run from a pitcher since John Hope connected in 1994.

Now, obviously, pitchers didn't hit for the Herd during its run with Cleveland from 1995-2008 but there had been no shots in the first three years the Mets until Owen connected Monday night and Harvey put his two-run shot together with his seven shutout innings in Wednesday's 12-1 romp past the IronPigs.

See MILB.com's videos of the two home runs below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Scranton/WB Yankees make debut in Batavia tonight

As part of their seasonlong barnstorming tour, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Empire State) Yankees will play seven home games in tiny, 2,600-seat Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, home of the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League. The Yankees will be in Batavia all weekend for a four-game series against the Norfolk Tides, Baltimore's top affiliate.

The teams play tonight at 7, Saturday and Sunday at 1 and Monday at noon. Tickets are $9, $8 and $7. The ballpark is easy to get to via the Thruway, about a 45-minute drive from Buffalo. Take Exit 48 for Batavia, go left on Oak Street, left on Richmond Avenue and left on Bank Street to the ballpark.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

 

It's a special day at Fenway: Happy 100th

Fenway Park turns 100 today, the first American stadium to do so. It opened on April 20, 1912, so on April 20, 2012, the Red Sox and Yankees will reprise that opener wearing vintage uniforms (the Yankees rarely wear anything different but they'll have Highlander duds on today).

The game is at 3 on YES. At 2 p.m., the Red Sox have an elaborate ceremony planned where every living Sox has been invited back. YES says it will show "highlights" of that, but how much will a Yankee station really show? I would check MLB Network or watch MLB.com if you really want to see the whole thing. Deposed manager Terry Francona, who was miffed by his ouster after last season, has changed his mind and will attend.

The team had a full open house Friday, with fans able to go in areas like the dugouts, field, press box and club levels that are normally closed to the public. More than 53,000 people strolled through the park!

Check out some cool links:

---The Boston Globe has a full Fenway at 100 section but it's for subscribers only. Too bad. The Globe did a terrific what-it-means-to-the-fans piece on April 1 that's well worth the read.

---MLB.com has put together a Fenway at 100 site you can access with some incredible multimedia.

---The Hartford Courant has this neat look at 100 Fenway factoids.

---Check out this video from MLB Network.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Late Night with starting pitchers

While you were probably sleeping -- and while I was spending most of my time watching Kings-Canucks Game Four -- there were some pretty amazing pitching performances going on late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning on the West Coast.

In San Francisco, the Giants pulled out a 1-0, 11-inning win over the Phillies in a game that, incredibly, only took 2 hours, 27 minutes to play. Cliff Lee went 10 innings for the Phillies but got a no-decision. Matt Cain went nine for the Giants.

Some wacky notes on Lee's outing:

---It was the fifth 10-inning outing by a starter of the century, the first since Roy Halladay and Aaron Harang went 10 in 2007.
---It was the first 10-inning scoreless outing since Mark Mulder for the A's in 2005.
---It was the first 10-inning outing by a Phillie since Terry Mulholland in 2003 and the first in the big leagues to not result in a win since Bret Saberhagen in 1994.

Meanwhile, in Anaheim, Bartolo Colon threw eight shutout innings as the Athletics posted a 6-0 win over the struggling Angels. No biggie normally. Except he threw 38 straight strikes at one point in the game, the most recorded since official pitch-by-pitch charting began in 1988 (Tim Wakefield threw 30 in 1995). Colon finished with 108 pitches and 82 strikes to improve to 3-1. Think the Yankees could still use him?

If you want to see all 38 strikes, MLB.com has the video here. And pitch 39 was somehow called a ball by plate umpire Marvin Hudson when it was right down the middle too. Pretty funny to listen to how the A's announcers got into the run of strikes the last 10 pitches or so.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Bisons close out homestand

The season-opening homestand for the Buffalo Bisons ends this afternoon when the Herd hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at 1 p.m. in Coca-Cola Field. The Herd is 4-4 on the homestand, including the last two games against the IronPigs by 4-1 scores.

Lefty Garrett Olson gets his third start of the season for the Herd. He was charged for the loss in his last outing against Pawtucket. He allwoed four runs, though only one was earned, in 4.1 innings of work. He had no-decision April 9 in Rochester giving up one run in five innings.

Lucas May gets the day off today, but the catcher tripled in back-to-back games. The last Bison catcher to have two triples in one season was Robinson Cancel in 2009.

Today's Bison lineup:

Jordany Valdespin -- CF
Bobby Scales -- 2B
Josh Satin -- 3B
Valentino Pascucci -- 1B
Adam Loewen -- RF
Raul Reyes -- LF
Rob Johnson -- C
Omar Quintanilla -- SS
Garrett Olson -- P

--- Amy Moritz 

Hefner gets start for Herd

Righty Jeremy Hefner will get his third start of the season for the Buffalo Bisons as the Herd continues its series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Field. Hefner picked up a win in his season opener April 8 at Rochester but had a difficult outing last Friday, pithcing just 4 1/3 innings in a loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Today's lineup for the Herd:

Jordany Valdespin -- 2B
Bobby Scales -- SS
Valentino Pascucci -- 1B
Zach Lutz -- 3B
Vinny Rottino -- LF
Matt Tuiasosopo -- RF
Lucas May -- C
Raul Reyes -- CF
Jeremy Hefner -- P

--- Amy Moritz 

Bisons schedule note for tonight

The Bisons-Lehigh Valley game tonight in Coca-Cola Field is a 6:05 p.m. start. An incorrect graphics box was posted in today's print editions advertising a different time and a festival promotion that is not scheduled for this evening.

The Bisons and IronPigs play tonight at 6 and wrap up the homestand Thursday at 1. The teams have split the first two games, with Chris Schwinden leading the Bisons to a 4-1 win on Tuesday.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Herd homestand is (no) walk in the park

The Buffalo Bisons and Lehigh Valley IronPigs meet again tonight at Coca-Cola Field and the Bisons' goal better be to throw some strikes. After walking 10 more batters and drawing more ire from manager Wally Backman during Monday's 8-2 loss, the Bisons have issued 66 free passes in 12 games -- the most in all of professional baseball. Here's the list heading into tonight's games:

Buffalo-AAA 66
Omaha-AAA 60
Augusta-A 60
West Virginia-A 58
Mississippi-AA 57
Arkansas-AA 57
NW Arkansas-AA 57
Huntsville-AA 52
Washington-MLB 50
San Diego-MLB 50
Richmond-AA 50

Yeesh. The Bisons are 2-4 on their homestand -- and the average time of game is 3 hours,  23 minutes. Yep, walks take time.

Chris Schwinden, who has walked eight in his two starts over nine innings, goes tonight for the Herd. Former Bison Pat Misch goes for Lehigh Valley, which is 10-2 and trying to tie its franchise record by winning seven straight games. One lineup note: First trip to the outfield this season for Valentino Pascucci, who will be in right field.

Here's the Herd lineup:

Jordany Valdespin, cf
Bobby Scales,  2b
Josh Satin, 1b
Valentino Pascucci, rf
Zach Lutz, 3b
Vinny Rottino,  lf
Lucas May, c
Omar Quintanilla, ss
Chris Schwinden, p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Ryno brings first-place Pigs to town to meet Herd

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs fell two games shy of winning the International League championship last season and they're off to a quick start this year under second-year manager and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. The Pigs hit town tonight at 9-2 and on a five-game winning streak as they meet the Buffalo Bisons.

Interesting pitching matchup as Buffalo's Jeurys Familia goes against LV's Austin Hyatt. Good luck to Hyatt breaking the Phillies' rotation but he did lead the Eastern League last year in wins (12) and strikeouts (171) for Reading.

In one of his final columns last June, our late, great friend Allen Wilson did a terrific piece on Sandberg. It's a privilege here for me to tell you to go to this link and check it out. As is customary before basically every game, Sandberg is next to the visitors dugout signing autographs 20 minutes before the first pitch.

Meanwhile, Josh Satin is back in the Buffalo starting lineup after spending a day with the Mets on the new taxi squad in case David Wright went on the DL. Satin got into yesterday's 10-9, 10-inning win over Pawtucket as a pinch-hitter. Second baseman Bobby Scales continues to lead the IL in batting at .448.

The Buffalo lineup:

Jordany Valdespin, cf
Bobby Scales, 2b
Josh Satin, 1b
Zach Lutz,  3b
Vinny Rottino, lf
Adam Loewen,  rf
Rob Johnson, c
Omar Quintanilla,  ss
Jeurys Familia, p 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Harvey makes home debut

After some heavy morning rains, the skies have dried up at Coca-Cola Field and the Bisons and Pawtucket are set for a 1:15 start as the grounds crew does some final work on the field.

This will be the home debut for Buffalo right-hander Matt Harvey, the Mets' No. 1 draft pick in 2010. He's struggled so far, going 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in two starts (allowing 14 hits and five walks over 9 1/3 innings).

Red-hot second baseman Bobby Scales is batting second today for the Herd. Be sure to read my piece on today's paper on the 34-year-old Scales. He enters today leading the IL in batting (.458), on-base percentage (.567) and OPS (1.317), and is second in slugging (.750).

Here's the Buffalo lineup:

Jordany Valdespin, ss
Bobby Scales,  2b
Valentino Pascucci, dh
Zach Lutz, 1b
Vinny Rottino, lf
Raul Reyes, cf
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3b
Adam Loewen, rf
Rob Johnson, c

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

One big Red Sox prospect on hill, one off to Boston as Herd opens new series downtown

The Bisons and Pawtucket Red Sox open a two-game set today in Coca-Cola Field and the Pawtucket pitcher will be 25-year-old right-hander Alex Wilson, who was Boston's minor-league pitcher of the year last season after going 9-4, 3.05 at Double-A Portland and 1-0, 3.43 with the Pawsox. Wilson allowed one run in five innings and got a no-decision is his lone start this year, last Saturday against Lehigh Valley.

Pawtucket will be without top outfield prospect Che-Hsuan Lin, who has been called up to replace the injured Jacoby Ellsbury (who is out 6-8 weeks). Lin, the World Team MVP at the 2008 All-Star Futures Game, and an '08 Olympian for Taiwan, was just 3 for 20 for Pawtucket this year. Shows how golden those 40-man roster spots are. Lin and his interpetor flew out of Buffalo this morning, the Boston Globe reported.

The Bisons, meanwhile, will be trying to stop a two-game slide (Memo to the Herd: The Sabres have already proven a 2-0 lead is one of the most dangerous in sports. Stop it.). Garrett Olson will pitch for Buffalo. Here's the Herd lineup:

Jordany Valdespin, cf
Bobby Scales, 2b
Valentino Pascuci, dh
Vinny Rottino, lf
Zach Lutz, 1b
Matt Tuiasosopo,  3b
Adam Loewen, rf
Rob Johnson,  c
Omar Quintanilla,ss

Buffalo utility man Josh Satin is not here today. He's in New York and has been placed on the Mets' 24-hour taxi squad. That's a new rule this year to prepare players for promotion (see David Wright) but allows them to be replaced so the minor-league clubs aren't short. Catcher Jean Luc Blaquiere has been called up from Class A St. Lucie for today's game.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Bisons close out series with Scranton

The Bisons continue their opening homestand by closing out their series with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. This morning, Scranton put yesterday's starter, Manny Banuelos, on the disabled list. Banuelos gave up two runs on three hits with six walks in just two innings of work.

Today, righty D.J. Mithcell (1-0) gets the start for the Yankees. He is 4-0 career against the Bisons with a 1.04 earned run average. Buffalo will counter with righty Jeremy Hefner (1-0, 2.57 ERA) who went seven innigns in a 5-3 win at Rochester on Sunday. Those seven innings are the most by a Herd starter this season.

Today's starting lineups:

Bisons:
Jordany Valdespin -- CF
Bobby Scales -- 2B
Josh Satin -- DH
Valentino Pascucci -- 1B
Vinny Rottino -- LF
Zach Lutz -- 3B
Adam Loewen -- RF
Lucas May -- C
Omar Quintanilla -- SS

Scranton:
Kevin Russo -- LF
Ramior Pena -- 2B
Steve Pearce --1B
Jack Cust -- DH
Dewayne Wise -- CF
Brandon Laird -- 3B
Colin Curtis -- RF
Craig Tatum -- C
Doug Bernier -- SS

 

--- Amy Moritz 

Schwinden returns to Coca-Cola Field

Chris Schwinden will make his Coca-Cola Field debut this afternoon as the Herd plays Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The righty was the Bisons Most Valuable Pitcher last year after earning eight wins with 134 strikeouts 00 the third most in a single season by a Bison in the Modern Era. Schwinden opened the season with a win over Rochester last wee. He gave up just two unearned runs in five innings.

Today's Lineups:

Buffalo:
Jordany Valdespin -- CF
Bobby Scales -- SS
Josh Satin -- 1B
Valentino Pascuccio -- DH
Zach Lutz -- 3B
Matt Tuiasosopo -- RF
Lucas May -- C
Michael Fisher -- 2B
Chris Schwinden -- P

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre:
Kevin Russo -- 2B
Francisco Cervelli -- C
Steve Pearce -- 1B
Jack Cust -- DH
Dewayne Wise -- RF
Brandon Laird -- 3B
Colin Curtis -- CF
Ramiro Pena -- SS
Ray Kruml -- LF
Manny Banuelos -- P

--- Amy Moritz 

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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