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Article: MIN 11, CWS 4: Twins Make Home Run History

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:44 PM
José Berríos scared us a little bit early in the game, but an Eddie Rosario-led offense scored in all of the first five innings to promot...
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (5/24): 2018 Top Draft...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 10:37 PM
We’re a little over a week away from the 2019 MLB Draft. On a night with very little offense across the system, 2018 top picks Trevor Lar...
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Game Thread: Twins vs White Sox 5:10 PM PST (7:10 PM CST)...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:30 PM
"Red-headed step-children are mollycoddled compared to this thrashing."   ----Halos Heaven game thread, last game of the series agai...
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Article: When the Twins Go Buying... Who Are They Selling?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:25 PM
As we approach the trade deadline - What? It’s only a little over two months away - there are a number of moves the Twins could and possi...
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Zack Littell recalled. Adams DFA’d

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:13 PM
I assume Littell will be in the pen.
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LAA 5, MIN 4: More Missed Opportunities

The powerful Twins lineup mashed a couple more home runs tonight, but the team's struggles to deliver clutch hits continued. They combined to go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and Jose Berrios had his worst start of the season as the Twins dropped the series opener to the Angels 5-4.
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Box Score
Berrios: 5.2 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 62.4% strikes (63 of 101 pitches)
Home Runs: Polanco (8), Gonzalez (4)
Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-5, HR), Rosario (2-for-4)
WPA of +0.1: Astudillo .178, Gonzalez .110
WPA of -0.1: Kepler -.117, Buxton -.171, Garver -.182, Castro -.210, Berrios -.332
Attached Image: Win513.png
(chart via FanGraphs)

Neither pitcher looked good early on, as Jose Berrios and Tyler Skaggs combined to throw 121 pitches through the first three innings. In the fourth inning, Berrios matched his season high in hits allowed (eight) and recorded his first ground ball double play of the season when he got Shohei Ohtani to ground into a 4-6-3 on a 3-0 pitch to end the inning.

Worst Start of the Year for Berrios
The struggles for Berrios didn’t end after he induced the fourth inning double play. In the fifth inning, a replay challenge ruled Andrelton Simmons was safe on a stolen base and he later scored on a seeing-eye ground ball from Albert Pujols. Jose also served up two home runs, the first to Shohei Ohtani in the third inning and the second to Tommy La Stella in the sixth.

After allowing two base runners following the La Stella home run, Berrios' night was cut short after 5 2/3 innings. For the first time this season, Jose was pulled prior to completing six innings. He surrendered 12 hits and allowed five earned runs with only three strikeouts on 101 pitches. Simply put, he did not look like his usual self tonight.

Resilient Twins Offense Strikes Again
The Angels weren’t the only ones having fun at the plate. Thanks to a pair of two-run home runs from Jorge Polanco and Marwin Gonzalez, the Twins tied the score at four apiece in the bottom of the fifth inning. If not for having an Angel in the outfield, it very well could have been three home runs for the Twins but Garver’s blast came up just short of the flower beds in left and instead landed in the outfielders glove.

Coming Up Just Short
The bullpen kept the Twins alive, keeping the Angels off the board over three plus innings. A double from La Tortuga to lead off the eight showed promise of another late inning rally but the offense fell short and were unable to drive him in.

With the top of the order due up in the ninth, the Twins had one last chance to come from behind. Unfortunately it didn't go their way. They were retired in order and for only the third time this year the Twins dropped back to back games.

Postgame With Baldelli

Bullpen Usage
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Attached Image: Bullpen513.png
Next Three Games
Tue vs. LAA, 6:40 pm CT (Gibson-Pena)
Wed vs. LAA, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Cahill)
Thu at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (TBD)

Last Game
DET 5, MIN 3: We Have a Problem


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57 Comments

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Aerodeliria
May 14 2019 09:32 AM

 

Do you guys really like Kepler as a lead off hitter? He's back to his old self at the plate from the last 3 years of full time play - .236/.304/.457(.761) this year, .233/.312/.421(.733) career. His OPS is up a little because of a better slugging %, not because of a better batting average and his OBP is down and actually pretty bad. He's OBP is better vs. RH pitching than LH pitching - .331 v. .216 so maybe that's why Baldelli doesn't play him or at least doesn't lead him off against LH pitching. I know a lot of people here want him to succeed, but let's face facts. He's had 1800 MLB ABs and so far he is a below average hitter for a corner OF. I know his peripherals are better and I've heard the rationalization that he "just suffers from a low BABIP". That may be true, but's it's now been true for 3 plus years of full time play. His track suggests that this may be who he is - an above average to elite defender in the corner who could besolid to better fielding CF, who doesn't really hit much for average or OBP but does have some power. He's really the strong half of a platoon.  

 

My point isn't to sit or replace Kepler, but I think batting him lead off isn't a good idea. He isn't there because he's good at it - by statistical definition he's a mediocre lead off hitter against RH pitching and a truly lousy lead off hitter against LH pitching. He also seems to press a little there and under pressure over all. Witness last night's awful AB with a man on second a no outs in the 8th down a run where he lunged at the first pitch trying to hit a home run when a ground ball to the right side was his job. Only one AB, but right now he has a .485 OPS with runners in scoring position this year (admittedly a SSS). The Twins are committed to him now, so let's develop him by putting him where he can hit with a little less pressure. We should hit Kepler 7th or 8th where he belongs. 

 

I come not to bury Kepler, but to argue that he hasn't "broken out" yet and leading him off is not helping him do that. I would lead off Garver when he plays and Polanco when Garver sits, move Gonzalez to the 2 hole when Garver isn't playing, and put Kepler at 6 ahead of Schoop at 7. Peripherals are nice but don't show a breakout. At most, they suggest that a breakout may be coming. A breakout happens when one's BA, SLG % and OPS show the breakout. Those are the stats that matter on the field. Kepler's stats don't show a breakout. There's a better chance of Kepler breaking out lower in the order IMHO.

 

Performance matters. It matters even when we want and hope a player does well. Now, I'll crawl into my bunker, fortify the door, waiting for the responses. 

 

Actually, I like your post very much, but now that Marwin is getting in his groove, why not bat him first? He is probably the most patient hitter we have and he just seems like a player who doesn't press very much...of course, once Sano returns and Cruz is also in the lineup, it's hard to work around all of the contingencies. Probably Marwin could switch with Kepler when there was a lefty on the mound, and he could fill in on the infield or outfield to give others a rest considering he so versatile.

    • LA VIkes Fan likes this

 

What do all you Marwin doubters think now?

I don't know that anyone ever doubted Marwin's ability to post a 81 wRC+ for the season. :)

 

Let's hope he keeps his hot streak going, to significantly best his career 102 mark.

    • USAFChief likes this
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stringer bell
May 14 2019 10:14 AM

Regarding not bunting--with all of the strikeouts and pop flies in today's game, it is far from a guarantee that the next guy will bring in that run. Kepler hits a lot of pop flies and a lot of grounders into the shift, one of the two would have advanced the runner, the other not so much. 

 

Kepler is consistently inconsistent. He's already had three or four "snags" where he's 1-10, 2-15. He'll come out of it with multiple hits and extra base hits. I'd like to see a true leadoff hitter, but given what is available, I think Kepler is as good a choice as anyone.

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LA VIkes Fan
May 14 2019 10:32 AM

We agree that there aren't a lot of good choices for the lead off role. This all gets back to the preseason discussion that the Twins had upgraded the roster but had not found enough higher OBP guys to go with the increase in power guys. I think where we disagree is in the choice.

 

I think Polanco is a better choice to lead off. I would lead him off when Garver isn't playing with Gonzalez hitting 2 now that he's knocked the rust off. I would bat Garver and Polanco 1 and 2 when Garver is playing and the order doesn't matter much to me with a slight preference for leading off Polanco because of his speed compared to Garver. I just don't see Kepler as hitting in the top 5 or maybe even the top 6 once Sano is back. I think he's better suited for the 6-8 holes in combination with Schoop and Castro; the more inconsistent boom or bust guys. I also think that's better for Kepler; he has a lot of development left to do (we hope) and putting him in a lower pressure situation should help that. Move him up when he's ready. 

    • Don Walcott likes this
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puckstopper1
May 14 2019 11:16 AM

 

I think this team will be fine. It's unfortunate they've been kinda playing with the 'B' team for the past couple of days. We might get the "B" team for the remainder of this series, unfortunately. Glad Castro will be on the bench tonight, Kepler will be back in his leadoff spot, and hopefully we'll have an infield of Astudillo, Polaco, Schoop and Cron. A few nagging problems:

 

 

2. Schoop has been out with a sore left shoulder. Odd injury...

 

 

 

Bighat - Schoop hurt his shoulder when he dove for a ball against the Tigers in the 1st game of the DH on Saturday.I was at the game and my friend even commented on how much Schoop was working his shoulder while in the field between batters.Not surprised he needed a few games off to see how it reacted.Hopefully him getting in the game last night means that the injury is a minor one.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco, Don Walcott and bighat like this

 

Bighat - Schoop hurt his shoulder when he dove for a ball against the Tigers in the 1st game of the DH on Saturday.I was at the game and my friend even commented on how much Schoop was working his shoulder while in the field between batters.Not surprised he needed a few games off to see how it reacted.Hopefully him getting in the game last night means that the injury is a minor one.

 

Must have missed that - thanks for the tip! Makes total sense. Hope he's back in there tonight, yeah when he pinch ran that was a good sign.

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Don Walcott
May 14 2019 11:38 AM

Is it possible that Buxton isn't just ready to hit leadoff, but that he's our best option hitting leadoff?

 

I think so. I hope so. Please let it be so.

    • bighat likes this

 

 

We agree that there aren't a lot of good choices for the lead off role. This all gets back to the preseason discussion that the Twins had upgraded the roster but had not found enough higher OBP guys to go with the increase in power guys. I think where we disagree is in the choice.

 

I think Polanco is a better choice to lead off. I would lead him off when Garver isn't playing with Gonzalez hitting 2 now that he's knocked the rust off. I would bat Garver and Polanco 1 and 2 when Garver is playing and the order doesn't matter much to me with a slight preference for leading off Polanco because of his speed compared to Garver. I just don't see Kepler as hitting in the top 5 or maybe even the top 6 once Sano is back. I think he's better suited for the 6-8 holes in combination with Schoop and Castro; the more inconsistent boom or bust guys. I also think that's better for Kepler; he has a lot of development left to do (we hope) and putting him in a lower pressure situation should help that. Move him up when he's ready. 

 

I have to agree. The problem is, if you have Polanco batting leadoff, who do you bat second? Buxton? Then where do Cron and Sano fit in? Do we bat Schoop 9th? Should Gaver (when playing) be in the heart of the order? I personally like Garver down at about 7, with Kepler in the 8 hole, Buxton at 9.

 

At some point though, the Twins should move Buxton up and see what he can do in the 1 or 2 hole. He should be ready for that later this year I hope.

    • Don Walcott likes this

 

 

Is it possible that Buxton isn't just ready to hit leadoff, but that he's our best option hitting leadoff?

 

I think so. I hope so. Please let it be so.

 

Funny, I was typing the exact same thing as you posted this. At some point I think the Twins have to just give him a shot.

    • Don Walcott likes this
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Don Walcott
May 14 2019 11:49 AM

 

Funny, I was typing the exact same thing as you posted this. At some point I think the Twins have to just give him a shot.

Assuming he keeps hitting like he is now, he would score a lot of runs. Any hit or walk is like giving him a double (and he has been getting his fair share of actual doubles). Plus Polanco hitting behind him will likely ensure that he gets more good pitches to hit. And having Buxton on second will give Polanco and Cruz more RBI opportunities. Seems like it would be the best of all possible worlds . . . assuming Buxton keeps hitting like he has so far this year.

 

What's the down side? Seems like the up side is hard to resist at this point.

I liked her non-confrontational version of the question better. Granted, there might have been a time in the near past when “what the hell are you doing out there” would have been an honest question for the manager and front office, but not now :)


Only in Minnesota would, "Why did you send Berrios back out for the 6th?", be considered confrontational.
    • Riverbrian likes this

 

But when the shift doesn't work it most definitely stands out a lot more than when it does.

It would make sense to me that we will see shifts beaten more often going forward as the shift pendulum swings too far. Where the 'marginal' power guys become willing to look to beat the shift. Just eyeball/gut, I thought it was absurd that the Tigers were shifting Polanco. And, sure enough, he burned them multiple times.

 

Maybe I'm just hoping. The pull/launch thing is great, but I like the idea of diverse styles and approaches surviving the data-driven evolution.

There are times to bunt late in games, maybe. But here is some math (note, this is not a game thread, so you were not promised no math, sir or madam).

 

https://www.danblewe...cy-bunting-bad/

 

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LA VIkes Fan
May 14 2019 12:34 PM

 

I have to agree. The problem is, if you have Polanco batting leadoff, who do you bat second? Buxton? Then where do Cron and Sano fit in? Do we bat Schoop 9th? Should Gaver (when playing) be in the heart of the order? I personally like Garver down at about 7, with Kepler in the 8 hole, Buxton at 9.

 

At some point though, the Twins should move Buxton up and see what he can do in the 1 or 2 hole. He should be ready for that later this year I hope.

I was think that until Sano comes back, Garver hits 2 when he plays and Gonzalez when Garver doesn't play. It's a lot tougher Sano gets back because Gonzalez assumedly plays less. That might be the time to give Buxton a shot - on those days when both Garver and Gonzalez are sitting. 

 

I’m not scoffing at the idea of productive outs, but I’m not bothered that Kep didn’t advance the runner there. Yes, it would have been nice, sure. Twins fans have endured 25 years of “move ‘em over, get ‘em in” ... “play for a run, lose by a run” style of baseball. I like this version better!

But we just lost by a run. :)

My thing is...why does having the ability to pull and launch and hit home runs have to preclude the ability to move a runner when the scenario calls for that? You'd like to see that type of versatility...at least among guys that aren't going to be anywhere near league-leaders in power numbers.

 

(by the way...not necessarily a Kepler thing, really. Kepler was trying to move the runner...he's always trying to pull the ball which was the play there. Just got beat by the pitch.)

 

    • Riverbrian likes this

 

There are times to bunt late in games, maybe. But here is some math (note, this is not a game thread, so you were not promised no math, sir or madam).

 

https://www.danblewe...cy-bunting-bad/

 

This would be an overly simplistic view of things... however, this is how I look at it. 

 

When you bunt... you are playing for one run and one run only. Sure you'll take 5 runs in the inning if it happens but whenever, you lay down a bunt, you have lessened your chance to put 5 runs on the board that inning by creating the out and those outs are precious. So, whenever you bunt, you are saying forget 5 runs this inning... I need 1 run right now. You are laying down the bunt to get a single run across the plate. 

 

When you don't bunt, you are playing for as many runs as you can possibly get in a given inning and teams should always be trying to score as many runs as possible in any given inning. 

 

Unless, time is running out. That is the only time that playing for a single run and a single run only makes sense. If you are down a run or tied and that Single run keeps you alive or wins it. 

 

That's why I'm not bunting until the 8th or 9th inning and the game is tied or 1 run apart.

 

If Astudillo would have hit a single instead of a double last night, leading off the 8th... I'm not sure that I would have bunted in that situation... but since it was a double... getting the pinch runner to third where a sacrifice fly or a seeing eye single through the drawn in infield ties the game. This isn't a moment to think about getting 5 runs in the 8th... this is a moment to think about tying the game up. 

 

This is one of the few situations were the bunt is almost required. 

 

It was an execution failure. 

 

 

    • USAFChief likes this

 

But we just lost by a run. :)

My thing is...why does having the ability to pull and launch and hit home runs have to preclude the ability to move a runner when the scenario calls for that? You'd like to see that type of versatility...at least among guys that aren't going to be anywhere near league-leaders in power numbers.

 

(by the way...not necessarily a Kepler thing, really. Kepler was trying to move the runner...he's always trying to pull the ball which was the play there. Just got beat by the pitch.)

 

Yep,

 

You are not going to use your driver to chip on to the green from 30 feet out. Teams and players need to have multiple clubs in the bag. 

    • h2oface likes this

 

Do you guys really like Kepler as a lead off hitter?

Don't love him there...but given alternatives, I'm good with it.

 

When looking at it, we'd probably be better off considering Kepler's numbers against righties only. He's not batting lead-off against lefties. And his OBP against righties...while not outstanding...is decent, and better than Buxton's.

 

Against lefties, I'm good with Garver leading off at this time.

 

My feeling is that lead-off batters have more pressure and see different pitching approaches (certainly relative to no. 9 hitters). Even if Buxton continues to make progress, I want him with a solid season behind him before we ask him to take that on...as long as the alternatives are 'decent'...which I feel the Kepler/Garver platoon is (so far).

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this

 

Regarding not bunting--with all of the strikeouts and pop flies in today's game, it is far from a guarantee that the next guy will bring in that run. Kepler hits a lot of pop flies and a lot of grounders into the shift, one of the two would have advanced the runner, the other not so much. 

 

Kepler is consistently inconsistent. He's already had three or four "snags" where he's 1-10, 2-15. He'll come out of it with multiple hits and extra base hits. I'd like to see a true leadoff hitter, but given what is available, I think Kepler is as good a choice as anyone.

 

Considering that the runner needed to be moved over first and foremost... I think it's possible that Adrianza was the better choice in that situation. Either bunting or hitting the ball behind the runner. 

 

But, like Chief said and Jkcarew said... Sometimes players fail. 

 

Right now... Psychologically... I'm just hoping that the Twins are not trying to out homer each other.

 

I've seen baseball teams get on home run rolls like the Twins have been on and get drunk with the power. The home runs come so easy that they start losing sight of the little things (like mere singles, driving in runs/keeping the chain moving) while in pursuit of the almighty dinger. 

 

I wouldn't proclaim it but I am suggesting the possibility that our struggles with runners in scoring position the past few games could be drunk with the power related. 

 

Just keep hitting the ball guys... they will still leave the park on occasion. 

 

 

 

 

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tarheeltwinsfan
May 14 2019 01:42 PM

 

Kepler absolutely has to advance the runner there. You can swing for the fences all you want, but if you get a gift situation like that in the 8th inning you get that runner over by hook or by crook!

Or bunt.

 

This would be an overly simplistic view of things... however, this is how I look at it. 

 

When you bunt... you are playing for one run and one run only. Sure you'll take 5 runs in the inning if it happens but whenever, you lay down a bunt, you have lessened your chance to put 5 runs on the board that inning by creating the out and those outs are precious. So, whenever you bunt, you are saying forget 5 runs this inning... I need 1 run right now. You are laying down the bunt to get a single run across the plate. 

 

When you don't bunt, you are playing for as many runs as you can possibly get in a given inning and teams should always be trying to score as many runs as possible in any given inning. 

 

Unless, time is running out. That is the only time that playing for a single run and a single run only makes sense. If you are down a run or tied and that Single run keeps you alive or wins it. 

 

That's why I'm not bunting until the 8th or 9th inning and the game is tied or 1 run apart.

 

If Astudillo would have hit a single instead of a double last night, leading off the 8th... I'm not sure that I would have bunted in that situation... but since it was a double... getting the pinch runner to third where a sacrifice fly or a seeing eye single through the drawn in infield ties the game. This isn't a moment to think about getting 5 runs in the 8th... this is a moment to think about tying the game up. 

 

This is one of the few situations were the bunt is almost required. 

 

It was an execution failure. 

 

did you read the math article?

 

Bunting there decreases your odds of scoring by 5%, give or take. Seems odd, but it does.

 

There are times to bunt late in games, maybe. But here is some math (note, this is not a game thread, so you were not promised no math, sir or madam).

 

https://www.danblewe...cy-bunting-bad/

There is a place for math, but in this case, the math is fuzzier then it first appears.

 

First, the math assumes that all base/out situations are created equally. That 2nd base, no out, with a hard throwing reliever against the bottom of the order is the same as 2nd base, no out, middle of the order against somebody's tiring 5th starter. That LH/RH don't matter for pitcher or hitter. None of this is ever true. This is a case where averages obscure the truth, rather than reveal it. There's an old saying...a statistician will look at a guy with one foot in boiling water and one frozen in ice and conclude, on average, the guy must be pretty comfortable.

 

Second, having seen these studies before, I believe the math shows that in certain situations, sac buntingactually increases the chances of scoring exactly one run, while lowering the chances of scoring multiple runs. And I agree with RB...there are situations when scoring one run is so important that I'd be more than willing to lower my chances of two or more to increase my chances of one.

 

And third, I don't even care if Kepler bunts there. A sac bunt attempt isn't guaranteed to advance the runner either. But if the team isn't going to bunt in that situation, then the hitter absolutely, positively, has to sell out to hit the ball to the right side, to maximize his chances of advancing that runner to third. In this case, Kepler swung wildly at the first pitch, a pitch that was very "pullable," and then got beat on a pitch away, which he had little chance of pulling, and popped up weakly to the left side. 

 

That's a failure to understand the situation, IMO, not just a failure to get the job done. It's the 8th inning. Your first priority has to be "get this sucker tied up." 

 

There is a place for math, but in this case, the math is fuzzier then it first appears.

 

First, the math assumes that all base/out situations are created equally. That 2nd base, no out, with a hard throwing reliever against the bottom of the order is the same as 2nd base, no out, middle of the order against somebody's tiring 5th starter. That LH/RH don't matter for pitcher or hitter. None of this is ever true. This is a case where averages obscure the truth, rather than reveal it. There's an old saying...a statistician will look at a guy with one foot in boiling water and one frozen in ice and conclude, on average, the guy must be pretty comfortable.

 

Second, having seen these studies before, I believe the math shows that in certain situations, sac buntingactually increases the chances of scoring exactly one run, while lowering the chances of scoring multiple runs. And I agree with RB...there are situations when scoring one run is so important that I'd be more than willing to lower my chances of two or more to increase my chances of one.

 

And third, I don't even care if Kepler bunts there. A sac bunt attempt isn't guaranteed to advance the runner either. But if the team isn't going to bunt in that situation, then the hitter absolutely, positively, has to sell out to hit the ball to the right side, to maximize his chances of advancing that runner to third. In this case, Kepler swung wildly at the first pitch, a pitch that was very "pullable," and then got beat on a pitch away, which he had little chance of pulling, and popped up weakly to the left side. 

 

That's a failure to understand the situation, IMO, not just a failure to get the job done. It's the 8th inning. Your first priority has to be "get this sucker tied up." 

 

It's a stupid old saying, as people that understand math would never use average that way, but I get your point. We probably won't agree here.....

 

 

Just keep hitting the ball guys... they will still leave the park on occasion. 

 

This is where commas are important.

    • ashbury, USAFChief and Riverbrian like this

 

It's a stupid old saying, as people that understand math would never use average that way, but I get your point. We probably won't agree here.....

I would argue the person who posted that rather limited and incomplete article about "run expectancy" used math exactly that way.

 

Maybe I understand math better than people that understand math.


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