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Game 120

August 19, 2016 – Naquin Walkoff Inside-the-Park Home Run

After a walkoff win the night before, the Blue Jays came to town for a weekend series. The Indians matched up Trevor Bauer with Francisco Liriano. The Jays were hanging to a fractional game lead in the east with a formidable hitting lineup, while the Indians were out ahead of the Tigers by seven games going into the weekend. 

Bauer got in trouble early, walking Michael Saunders in the top of the first. With two outs, Russel Martin sent a line-drive home run over the left field wall. The Indians found themselves in an early 2-0 hole. 

Liriano allowed only two hits through five innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Jason Kipnis got aboard with a line drive single to right field. With Lindor at the plate, Kipnis advanced to third on a passed ball that skipped away from Russel Martin. Mike Napoli drove Kipnis home with a single to left to cut the lead in half. 

The Jays bullpen showed up in a big way. For the second straight night, Naquin entered the game as a pinch hitter. He replaced  Brandon Guyer in the 7th inning for the matchup, as Joaquin Benoit came on to pitch for Liriano. Benoit pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, and Jason Grilli faced only four batters in the eighth to hold on to the 2-1 lead. 

After Jeff Manship retired the Jays side in order in the top of the ninth, Roberto Osuna came on to pitch for the Jays. 

After Carlos Santana popped out, Jose Ramirez stepped in. He took Osuna’s 0-2 pitch deep down the right field line and over the wall to tie the game at 2-2. 

Naquin battled through a series of fastballs and nearly struck out on Osuna’s fourth pitch–which he barely tipped. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Osuna lost one out over the plate, which Naquin squared and drove to deep center. 

For a moment it was unclear if the ball would be a home run, off the wall, or caught by a leaping Michael Saunders. 

As Saunders was leaping at the wall, Melvin Upton Jr. had slipped hustling over from second. Upton eventually ended up with the ball, but not before doing the splits and facing away from home plate. 

Greg Grant captured this moment in a legendary tweet

As Upton attempted to hit the cutoff man from the seat of his pants in right, Naquin was rounding third. Mike Sarbaugh gave him the green light, and Tyler dug for home. It was clear that there would be a play at the plate, but nearly as clear that he would be successful. The Indians bench had cleared well before  Naquin touched home and struck his now-iconic pose. 

The victory put the Indians 20 games over .500 for the season and set the tone for one of the great post-season runs in team history. It also put Naquin firmly into the Rookie of the Year discussion. He went on to finish third in the voting behind Michael Fulmer of the Tigers and Gary Sanchez of the Yankees

This was the first time in MLB history that a game-tying home run was followed by a game-winning inside-the-park home run.

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Game 119

August 18, 2016 – Naquin Completes the Comeback with a Pinch-Hit Walkoff

No, not that Tyler Naquin Walkoff. The White Sox were wrapping up a mid-week series at Progressive Field. The Indians had just activated Danny Salazar from the 15-day DL to start against the Sox’ Carlos Rodon. 

Salazar walked three of the first four batters he faced, then Justin Morneau drove a bases-clearing double into left-center. Morneau was left on base, but the Sox were out to an early 3-0 lead. 

Salazar did not return for the top of the second. Kyle Crockett pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Mike Clevinger took the mound for the top of the third and held the Sox scoreless through the top of the seventh. 

The Tribe started climbing back in the bottom of the fifth when Carlos Santana led off with a double and then was driven in by a Jose Ramirez single. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Roberto Perez slapped a leadoff single into right field. Jason Kipnis bounced one into the stands for a ground rule double that put Perez on third. Francisco Lindor slapped a single into short right field to make the score 3-2 Sox after six. 

After Dan Otero replaced Clevinger in the top of the seventh, JB Shuck bunted Tim Anderson from second to third. Omar Narvaez poked a grounder through the left side of the infield to give the Sox an insurance run. 

Rajai Davis made it a 4-3 game with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh, and Jose Ramirez tied it with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless ninth inning to hold the tie. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Abe Almonte led things off with a double into center field. Terry Francona signaled to Roberto Perez to bunt Almonte over to third. However, Jacob Turner’s first pitch to skipped away from Narvaez behind the plate for a passed ball that put Almonte on third. 

Now in a swing-away situation, Terry Francona decided that he could do better than Roberto Perez, who was hitting .108 at the time. He called on Tyler Naquin as a rare mid-at-bat pinch hitter. 

On Turner’s first pitch to Naquin, he lofted a fly ball to deep center. Almonte was able to tag and score the winning run for a walkoff sacrifice. 

Francona later said, “Tyler Naquin was sitting over there by the bat rack for a couple of days, ready to hit. …We didn’t have to go find him. He was ready, and it showed.”

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Game 113

August 12, 2016 – Indians Steal Eight Bases on way to 13-3 Win

The 2007 Indians were my favorite team to watch pitch. The 1995 team was my favorite to watch at bat. The magic of the 2016 squad came on the basepaths. Rajai Davis, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and plenty others were always pushing to take an extra base. 

Carlos Carrasco was pitching against the Angels’ Tyler Skaggs on this hot August Friday night. Carrasco got off to a rocky start, giving up a solo home run to Kole Calhoun and an RBI single to Albert Pujols that scored Mike Trout. The score was 2-0 before the Indians came to bat. 

Rajai Davis drew an 11-pitch walk to lead off the game, then stole second on Skaggs second pitch to Jason Kipnis. On the very next delivery, Rajai broke for third and arrived safely. Kipnis poked a line drive single into left to send Davis home. WIth two outs, Kipnis stole second but Jose Ramirez struck out to end the inning. 

Carrasco got into a groove and threw a 1-2-3 second inning. Brandon Guyer lead off the bottom half of the second with a solo home run that tied the game at 2-2. 

Pujols put the halos ahead once again in the top of the third with a grounder to third that scored Kole Calhoun. 

Jose Ramirez singled to right to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Ramirez swiped second with Brandon Guyer at the plate. After Guyer fouled out, Ramirez stole third with Abe Almonte at bat. Almonte knocked a line drive into center field to score Jose and tie things up at 3-3. 

The Tribe pulled away in the bottom of the fourth with four runs on five hits. Rajai got his third steal of the night and Ramirez his third as well.

The Indians added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Lindor got the club’s eighth steal of the night. 

Brian Shaw and Zach McAllister both pitched 1-2-3 innings in relief as the Indians would continue to pile on toward a 13-3 victory. 

When asked what made Skaggs so easy to run on, manager Terry Francona said simply, “You’ve got a lanky left-hander on the mound whose young,”

The Indians had not had eight stolen bases in a game since Game 128 of 1917. Right fielder Braggo Roth stole four bags in that contest against the Washington Senators. Joe Harris added two steals along with one each from Tris Speaker and Bill Wambsganss.

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Game 107

July 30, 2014 – Kluber Hurls a Maddux against King Felix

There was no more marquee pitching matchup of the 2014 season than Felix Hernandez facing Corey Kluber. The two met on a Wednesday night at Progressive Field. 

Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Kluber gave up three singles in the early innings, but they were all quickly erased–two of them with ground ball double plays.

The first 4 ½ innings were played in under an hour as Kluber and Hernandez each mowed through the opposing lineup. Felix had a perfect game going through four innings, until he walked Carlos Santana to lead off the fifth. 

Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a double to right field, which put Santana comfortably at third. Nick Swisher grounded a slow roller to second–Santana and Chishenall held at their bases–and Swisher beat the throw to first. After a grounder by David Murphy that forced Carlos out at home, Yan Gomes came through with a two run double. 

With the 2-0 lead, Kluber pitched even more confidently and efficiently. He needed only seven pitches to retire the Mariners side in the top of the seventh. 

The Indians did not threaten in the bottom of the seventh, but the Klubot returned to pitch the eighth. Kyle Seager grounded out on the second pitch. He struck out Logan Morrison looking on three perfectly located strikes, and got Mike Zunino to squib a weak grounder with the first pitch he saw. After a 6 pitch eighth inning, Kluber had thrown eight shutout innings using only 77 pitches. 

The Tribe went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth, and Kluber quickly returned to the mound looking for the final three outs. On a steady diet of nasty sinkers, Brad Miller, James Jones, and Dustin Ackley all grounded out to end the game. 85 pitches was the new Indians record for fewest pitches in a shutout. 69 of the 85 pitches were strikes. 

Terry Francona later said, “He threw 16 balls. My math is horrendous, but that’s like two an inning?”

Although Kluber’s league-leading 18 wins were not quite enough to put the Indians in the postseason in 2014, they were enough to win him the AL Cy Young award when he garnered 17 first place votes over Felix’s 13.

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Game 105

July 29, 2013 – Jason Giambi becomes Oldest MLBer to Hit a Walkoff Home Run

Zach McAllister was facing John Danks as the Indians were making a late-July surge into the playoff race against the scuffling White Sox. The Tribe entered Game 105 2 ½ games back of division-leading Detroit. 

Jason Giambi was hitting under .200 in his spot appearances so far in 2013. Although he was a clubhouse leader and mentor to many of the younger players, there was plenty of speculation that he would be the victim of trade-deadline maneuvering with his production so low. 

In the bottom of the second, Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a throwing error. Ryan Rayburn knocked a double through the left side of the infield, advancing Cabrera to third. Asdrubal scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana. 

McAllister held the Sox scoreless through five innings, scattering only two hits on his first two trips through the lineup. In the top of the sixth, McAllister got two quick outs against De Aza and Alexei Ramirez. Alex Rios started the White Sox two-out rally with a double down the right field line. Adam Dunn drove Rios home with an almost identical double. On McAllister’s very next pitch Paul Konerko singled to center, driving in Dunn for the go-ahead run. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Danks walked both Michael Bourn and NIck Swisher to lead off the inning. Jason Kipnis laid down a bunt down the third base line and beat the throw to first to load the bases. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded to short and was put out at first, but Bourn scored the tying run. 

McAllister recovered, pitching a 1-2-3 seventh. Then a combination of Cody Allen, Rich Hill, and Chris Perez held down the 2-2 tie, bringing the Tribe up in the bottom of the ninth. 

Jason Giambi came on to pinch hit for Mark Reynolds. He crushed a 1-1 pitch from right-handed Sox reliever Ramon Troncoso over the center-field wall and into the batter’s eye greenery. 

After a ice-water bath from his teammates, Giambi quipped “I might catch pneumonia. I’m too old to get a bucket of cold water dumped on me.”

With that blast, Giambi became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a game-ending home run. He was 42 years, 202 days old — 45 days older than Hank Aaron when he set the record in 1976. He also sealed his role as the clubhouse leader and veteran guru for the Tribe’s run to the wildcard game. 

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Honorable Mention – August 20, 1995 – Jose Mesa Surpasses Eckersley with 37th Converted Save

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Game 102

July 29, 2017 – Brandon Guyer Scores Go-Ahead Run with Clutch Hit-by-Pitch

Brandon Guyer became somewhat mythical for crowding the plate and sacrificing his body in clutch situations. Guyer led the league in Hit by Pitches in 2016 with 31, seven more than his nearest plate-crowding competition. FanGraphs August Fagerstrom even anointed him the Hit-by-Pitch King, given that he was hit more frequently (normalized for appearances) than any other player in modern history.  

On this day, Corey Kluber was on the hill against the White Sox’ Miguel Gonzales for this Saturday night contest on the south side of Chicago with some sweet 1917 throwback unis. Kluber gave up a seeing eye single to start the game, but then struck out the next three Sox. 

In the top of the second, Carlos Santana walked and then reached second on a fly ball to right field that was mishandled by Alan Hansen. Yan Gomes drove in Santana with a sacrifice fly. 

Kluber retired the Sox in order in the bottom of the second. He used only 10 pitches in the inning. 

Bradley Zimmer and Francisco Lindor notched consecutive singles to lead off the top of the third. Michael Brantley drove in Zimmer with a sac fly to deep center field. An Edwin Encarnacion single brought Lindor in to score. With two outs, Austin Jackson bounced one over the wall in left-center for a ground rule double that scored Encarnacion and made the game 4-0 Indians. 

Jose Abreu cut the deficit drastically in the Chicago half of the third when he cracked a three-run homer to deep left field. In the bottom of the sixth, Kluber got both Matt Davidson and Omar Narvaez to strike out swinging, but with two outs Alan Hansen lined Kluber’s first pitch down the right field line. Tim Anderson followed with a bloop double to short right, which allowed Hansen to score from second and tie the game. 

Andrew Miller held the game in a tie by recording the last two outs of the seventh and all of the eighth. 

In the top of the ninth, Carlos Santana drew a two-out walk from Aaron Bummer. Austin Jackson sent a line drive single into right field, advancing Santana to second. Greg Infante came on to relieve Bummer and hit Yan Gomes with his very first pitch to load the bases. 

Terry Francona brought Brandon Guyer off the bench to pinch hit for Erik Gonzales. On a 1-2 count, Infante hit Guyer sharply in the elbow, sending Guyer to his knees in the batter’s box. Guyer was awarded first base, forcing in Santana for the go-ahead run. In this case, Guyer was hit on the elbow, rather than in the thigh or calf as he took his stride out over the plate. 

Cody Allen retired the Sox in order for the save and the Indians cashed in on Guyer’s willingness to sacrifice his forearm for the win. In a postgame interview Guyer explained, “The goal going up to the plate is to get a run. That’s not how I want to do it, but at the end of the day, it helped our team win a game. I’ll take it.”

Andrew Miller quipped, ” Fortunately, if anybody’s used to it, it’s got to be him.”

Guyer led the league in HBP in both 2015 and 2016, but Shin-Soo Choo currently leads all active players with 143 HBP for his career to date. He is unlikely to catch all-time leader Hughie Jennings with 287 or modern-day leader Craig Biggio with 285. 

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Honorable Mention: August 4, 1932 (Game 1) – First Win in Municipal Stadium 

The Indians played their first game at the Stadium on July 31, 1932, but did not notch a win on the lakefront until August 4th, with 8-2 Victory over the Red Sox. The Tribe hit five triples in their spacious new home. However; fans complained about the massive outfield and after the 1933 season the Indians moved back to League Park until they brought Sunday and Holiday games back to the lakefront in 1937.

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Game 100

July 27, 2014 – Indians Take Advantage of Egregious TOOTBLAN, Defeat Twins

One of the best developments to come from sports blogging and sports Twitter has been the invention of increasingly specific and weird statistics. In 2008, Tony Jewell coined the term TOOTBLAN in his now defunct Cubs blog Wrigleyville23. Short for Thrown Out On the Basepaths Like a Nincompoop.

More precisely “In short, it is any out a runner makes on the basepaths while attempting to take an extra base – whether advancing from second to third on a ground out (with no runner on first); attempting to stretch a single into a double, a double into a triple, and so on; or getting thrown out while advancing on a flyball. It also applies to base runners who are picked off or who are doubled out on a line drive.”

Jewell was using this measure to feed further statistical analysis that adjusted on-base percentage to account for errors on the basepaths. However, in the intervening years, it has become popularized as a hashtag for the sort of videos that would make Sportscenter’s “Not Top 10.”

Danny Salazar started for the Tribe against Yohan Pino of the Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis. Pino retired the first three Indians he faced, but began to get in trouble in the top of the second. Carlos Santana led off the inning with a line drive down the right field line. Then Pino hit Lonnie Chisenhall with his 0-2 pitch. Nick Swisher poked a hit into center to load the bases. After a Yan Gomes strikeout, David Murphy drove a line drive into right scoring Santana and Chisenhall. A Mike Aviles sacrifice fly put the Tribe up 3-0. 

The Twins challenged Salazar in the bottom of the fourth. With runners at the corners, Sam Fuld drove in Oswaldo Arcia with a grounder to first, but Salazar struck out Brian Dozier to quell the threat. 

In the bottom of the seventh, Dozier scored the Twins only other run with a line drive home run that cleared the wall near the left foul pole. After a Trevor Plouffe strikeout, Kendrys Morales stepped in against Indians reliever Scott Atchison. 

Morales blooped a single near the left field line. He made a wide turn at first and dug for second as Indians cup-of-coffee outfielder Chris Dickerson fielded the ball on one hop, wheeled and threw to second. The throw was a bit low, sending Jason Kipnis sprawling into the dirt. However, Morales slide brought him about four feet short of the base. He popped up and attempted to hopscotch over and around Kipnis’ tag, but Kip managed to tag his cleat. Morales confidently called himself safe, but umpire Brian O’Nora did not agree. 

The TOOTBLAN ended the Inning, and the Indians four hit, four run ninth inning iced the game, along with a non-save ninth inning appearance by Carlos Carrasco. 

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Game 98

July 25, 2017 – Two Grand Slams, Including Encarnacion Walkoff in the 11th Inning

Mike Clevinger was pitching against his old team as the Angels came to town for a mid-week series. The Angels were throwing Jesse Chavez. 

Both Clevinger and Chavez threw 1-2-3 innings to start the game, but the Indians offense woke up in the bottom of the second. Edwin Encarnacion laced a double to center field to lead off the inning. Jose Ramirez followed with a line drive double of his own, which drove Encarnacion home. After striking out Carlos Santana on three pitches, Chavez suffered a sudden loss of control. He walked Austin Jackson and Yan Gomes to load the bases. Then he issued a third consecutive walk to Gio Urshella to give the indians their second run. 

With the bases still loaded, and facing a 3-1 count, Bradley Zimmer was not content to take to take pitches. He sent the Chavez pitch over the wall in right center and into the bullpens for his first career grand slam. 

After a pop-out by Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley followed with a home run of his own. Overall in the second, the Tribe sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs on four hits. 

The Angels narrowed the lead to three runs in the top of the third, when Kole Calhoun took Clevinger deep with a three-run home run. Luis Valbuena took advantage of an Indians error to drive in Andrelton Simmons for an RBI single. 

The Indians chased Chaves from the game in the bottom of the third, while Clevinger held on until the top of the fifth. After giving up another home run to Luis Valbuena, Terry Francona made the call for Nick Goody and both bullpens were at work. 

In the top of the sixth, Goody gave up a leadoff single to Kaleb Cowart. Yuniel Escobar sent a line drive down the right field line. Cowart scored comfortably, but Escobar got caught in a rundown trying to stretch the hit into a triple and was tagged out at third. 

With the game now tied, the bullpens battled into the bottom of the 11th. The Angels called on reliever Bud Norris. After being held scoreless for eight innings, Bradley Zimmer drew a seven-pitch walk to lead off the inning and then stole second base. Norris could not find his command against Francisco Lindor. On a 3-2 count, Norris’ pitch got away from backup catcher Juan Graterol, allowing Zimmer to take third. 

With no outs and runners at the corners, the Angels elected to intentionally walk Michael Brantley to set up a potential double-play. The Angels shifted into a five-man infield. Edwin Encarnacion stepped in and sent Norris first pitch deep into the Cleveland night for a walkoff grand slam. 

Bradley Zimmer later said, “You could put the whole team on the infield and it’s not going to work. The guy was made for situations like that.” 

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Game 97

July 24, 2012 – Suicide Squeeze by Aaron Cunningham Bunts Home the Winning Run

The division-leading Tigers came into Progressive Field riding a five-game winning streak and sent Doug Fister to the hill against Ubaldo Jiminez. 

Johnny Damon broke the ice for the Tribe in the bottom of the second with a line drive single to center off Fister’s first pitch that drove home Carlos Santana. 

Jason Kipnis led off the bottom of the fourth with a double down the left field line. Michael Brantley got aboard when he beat out a ground ball to third. Kipnis held at second. Then Santana punched a single between first and second to score Kipnis. Brantley ended up caught in a rundown, which saw Detroit first baseman Cecil Fielder sprinting across the infield on the wild play to tag out Dr. Smooth. 

Joe Smith replaced Ubaldo to pitch the top of the seventh. After retiring the first two batters, he issued a walk to Quintin Berry. Unfortunately, Miguel Cabrera was up next. Smith fell behind 2-0 to Miguel, who crushed the following pitch over the center field wall to tie up the game. 

After a Carlos Santana fly-out, Travis Hafner launched a low line drive which ricocheted off the wall in left center. Hafner was safe at third with a head-first slide. 

Lou Marson was brought on to pinch run for a clearly-winded Hafner. Marson took off toward the plate on the 1-1 pitch to Cunningham who laid down a perfect bunt back to the pitcher. Fister fielded the bunt cleanly, but his throw home was rushed and got away from catcher Alex Avila. Marson scored on the suicide squeeze and Cunningham took second on the error. 

Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez held up the 3-2 lead to secure the win and end the Tiger’s winning streak. In reference to the blown save Smith said, “It was like my big truck was sitting on top of me and somebody lifted it off…The guys bounced right back after I messed up.”

Less than 24 hours later, Cunningham was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for first baseman Brent Lillibridge who had just been acquired from the Red Sox. Manager Manny Acta had high praise for Cunningham as a teammate, but his .197 average in 97 appearances was not enough to keep him on the big league team. 

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Game 95

July 14, 2015 – Fan Catches Four Foul Balls in One Game

Only 15,400 fans spun the turnstiles for this Sunday afternoon matchup with the Royals, despite the Indians being just one game back from the Central Division lead. That left plenty of room for Greg Van Niel to snag foul balls. 

Van Niel caught four foul balls over the course the game–numbers 1, 2, and 4 on the fly, directly to his seat. He retrieved number 3 off the ground a few seats away. 

“Three of them were catches and one was a ball I picked up off the ground,” said Van Niel. “The third one, I think was the hardest one … I ended up sprawled across a few rows, and I got some cheese on myself. But the other ones were just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”

He kept three of the balls for the young family members who were at the game with him, and tossed the fourth to a child in his section. 

Van Neil said that he had never caught a Major League foul ball before, despite being a season ticket holder just one section over from the lucky spot. 

In on-the-field action, Jason Kipnis put the Indians up early with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first that scored Michael Bourn. 

The Royals chased starter Ubaldo Jimenez from the game after scoring two runs in the top of the second and another two in the top of the fourth. 

Down 4-3 with runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth, Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a two run double into the right field gap. Jason Kipnis drive in Cabrera to add an insurance run later in the inning. 

The bullpen combination of Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, and Chris Perez held off the Royals through the final third of the game to seal the 6-4 victory. 

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Honorable Mention: July 25, 1928 – First Indians Radio Broadcast Airs

The original WTAM Transmitter

Owner Alva Bradley had agonized over the decision whether to allow radio broadcast of Indians games for years. Some owners thought that broadcasts boosted interest in their club, others maintained that free access to real-time baseball would depress attendance. By mid-summer of 1928 Bradley elected to let WTAM broadcast all games live from League Park except for Sunday. 

Billy Evans and Tom Manning called the first game, a 10-2 win over the Red Sox featuring left fielder Charlie Jamieson going 3-5 with two RBI. 

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