Wednesday night’s game was a played under crisp, cool conditions at Parkview Field. You could tell that it was going to be different than the past four days had been. The Bowling Green series brought hot weather and high run totals to Fort Wayne, but Wednesday’s game was a low scoring affair.
Great Lakes scored in the first inning against Frank Garces, who worked five innings and struck out eight. The run he gave up was unearned because of an error in left field by Mike Gallic. Headed into that start, Garces had surrendered 12 hits in his prior two outings. It took him five starts as he opened the year to give up 12 hits. This was definitely the bounce-back outing that the lefty needed.
The TinCaps tied the game in the second with an RBI single from Yeison Asencio, and got a lead off double from Kyle Gaedele in the third. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t get another hit for the remainder of the game. Fort Wayne scored in the seventh with the help of a Loons error, but two TinCaps errors in the top of the 10th cost them the game. Duanel Jones made a throwing error with two outs, and Yeison Asencio failed to catch a fly ball in right field, allowing the two go-ahead runs to score. The errors came at a crucial point in the game, and cost the TinCaps in their third straight loss.
“As soon as we went down, we pretty much gave up on it,” Manager Jose Valentin said after the game. “I didn’t see any fire in the guys to try to go back there and forget about the two mistakes we made in the 10th.”
Fort Wayne needs a win tonight to make it above. 500 for the month of May. Right now the team is 14-14, and that’s following a 10-15 mark in April.
Fortunately, reigning Midwest League Pitcher of the Week Adys Portillo starts in the middle game of this series. Last time out he allowed just one hit in six innings against South Bend.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear Manager Jose Valentin give insight into what he thought was an overall good game, until the latter frames:
MAYER GOES PUBLIC (RADIO)
If you haven’t heard the new John Mayer album “Born and Raised”, I suggest you check it out. It’s a little bit of a different sound that what you might’ve been used to with his prior work, but I’ve found it really enjoyable. On the bus rides to and from South Bend last week, I probably made it through the entire track list about four or five times. I’ve found that it takes several listens to an album for me to really appreciate it.
A friend of mine sent me this link in which Mayer sits down with NPR for a 30-minute interview about his creative process, and the struggles that he endured in trying to re-find his voice after he felt a little burned out following his last album. He shows a very human side–meaning he explicitly talks about his nervousness, fears and insecurities–that you wouldn’t get when you listen to an interview with someone like Lady Gaga…if you can make it past her outfit to even hear what she’s saying.
Having that more “human” connection with an artist makes me like their music a bit more, since I feel invested in them as an individual. This may be far too deep an analysis of a public radio interview, but I feel like it’s worth the time for good music. Just like with sports, music is a method to take your mind off track from every day life, so I find the nitpicking to be enjoyable.
If you’ve got any music suggestions for the blog, or for my iPod for upcoming road trips (this weekend to Lake County) please feel free to share. I’m open to anything.
Here’s a tweet from INC’s Chief Meteorologist (and TinCaps pre-game weather forecaster) Curtis Smith:
Curtis Smith (@CurtisSmithINC) May 31, 2012
The TinCaps broadcast booth (which doubles as an amateur meteorology department) will be locked on the weather today, as it does appear to be a bit threatening.
Jefferson Starship…take it away!
It was just one of those days for the TinCaps on Tuesday, as they lost 8-2 to Bowling Green. Four TinCaps were ejected from the game, and that included Pitching Coach Willie Blair, pitcher Matt Stites, infielder Travis Whitmore and Manager Jose Valentin.
“I’m not going to go out there and get thrown out of the game because I want to,” Valentin told The Journal Gazette. “I went out there because I thought I had a case to the argument. I could see clear, from where I was in the dugout, as soon as that ball made contact with the bat, that ball never was fair. It wasn’t even close. The bottom line is we got beat again. We didn’t hit at all, we didn’t pitch at all today and they beat us.”
Lee Orr did hit another home run, giving him seven for the season. He’s hit longballs at an incredible pace, having registered 50 at bats in 15 games in a TinCaps uniform.
Now Great Lakes comes into town, and the Dodgers affiliate has played up and down baseball having split the last ten games. Over the last seven games, the Loons have gone win, loss, win loss, win, loss, win. That stretch followed a two-game losing streak, which was preceded by a two-game winning streak. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. The last time these two clubs met was back in April, from the 12th-15th, and both teams look much different than they did more than a month ago.
In today’s TinCaps report, Matt Stites talks about his ejection in from the game after surrendering a home run to Bowling Green’s Matt Rice:
TINCAPS TV SHOW
If you haven’t heard, the TinCaps are now one of just a few teams in Minor League Baseball to have an entire weekly television show dedicated to them. It’s called “Sound Off with the TinCaps” and it airs every Monday here in Fort Wayne on 21 Alive from 12:20-12:50 and it re-airs at 7:30.
There have been two episodes, and this past week’s show featured a live interview with Jose Valentin from the ballpark, and a behind the scenes segment with the Bad Apple Dancers.
For all of the segments, check out the link below:
“In this age of online streaming and Blu-ray Discs, there is still a place where the bulky VHS cassette endures: the immigrant communities of New York City.
The survival of the format may speak to a frugal strain among some immigrants, particularly those who are older, who seem more reluctant to embrace the throwaway, ever-modernizing consumer culture of America. Why upgrade to today’s technology? Those old cassettes do just fine.
“The immigrant very much values what they did not have,” said Orlando Tobón, a leader in the Colombian community of Jackson Heights, Queens, who runs a travel agency and tax-preparation office. “And if it still works, they still use it.”
In Harlem, a Senegalese-owned store stocks cassettes with movies from the expanding African film industry, and at least two shops in Queens, one owned by a Pakistani and the other by a Bangladeshi, supply Bollywood films on videocassette to the borough’s large South Asian population. Latinos with a lingering preference for the format shop at a Peruvian-owned store in Jackson Heights.
In interviews, the stores’ owners said videocassette sales and rentals, though now only a small and shrinking slice of their business, were sustained in part by older immigrants who seemed less inclined than the young to adopt new gadgetry.”
I remember watching This Week in Baseball on VHS as I was growing up, and then putting it in the VHS rewinder and watching it again. Remember these?
If these seem outdated now, what will we think of DVD players in five years?
Neil Young…take it away!
For the second time in three days, the TinCaps surrendered a season high in runs. On Saturday, that number was 11. After yesterday’s game, the number is 14. The Hot Rods took a 2-1 series lead with a 14-7 shellacking of the TinCaps.
The game started off well. Ruben Mejia made his first start since September of last year and lasted four innings. Mejia is the newest addition to the TinCaps starting rotation, which now features six pitchers in an effort to cut back on innings for the starters. Director of Player Development Randy Smith said earlier this year that most TinCaps starters were on track to throw between 120-130 innings. As of today, here’s how many each starter (not counting those on the disabled list) has thrown:
Frank Garces: 51.0 in 10 starts
Adys Portillo: 54 2/3 in 10 starts
Colin Rea: 35 2/3 in 4 starts, 12 relief appearances
Matt Wisler: 45 2/3 in 9 starts, 1 relief appearance
Cody Hebner: 46 2/3 in 9 starts
Let’s use Frank Garces as a case study. He’s next scheduled to pitch on Thursday against Great Lakes, and then would theoretically start two more times in the first half. If, and I’m just guessing here, he goes five innings in each of his next three starts, he’ll be at 66 innings for the first half. Extrapolating for another 13 starts in the second half at a theoretical five innings each, and Garces would be at 132 innings—over his limit. These numbers are all theoretical on my end, but it goes to show why the Padres have change to a six-man rotation with Fort Wayne.
The TinCaps clawed their way to a 3-2 win over Bowling Green on Sunday night in front of a great crowd of 7,304 at Parkview Field. Matt Wisler went six innings, and Kyle Gaedele came up with three hits for the TinCaps.
Gaedele’s been locked in for the last few games, after a long streak of difficulty at the plate. The outfielder was hitless in eight straight games from the 14th to the 21st, but in his last four games, he’s turned in three multi-hit performances, including two three-hit games. He’s now 8 of his last 15 with two runs batted in during the last four games.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear Manager Jose Valentin discuss the renewed focus at the plate for Kyle Gaedele, and his team’s ability to hold close in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Bowling Green:
Here’s a peek at today’s special threads for Memorial Day:
A LITTLE RAIN, PLEASE?
The last time I remember any rainfall was back in the first week of May when the TinCaps played against the Dragons in Dayton. That lead to a doubleheader being scheduled, and the TinCaps playing a 16-inning game in the first game of the twinbill. But apparently, we’re approaching dangerously low levels of rain:
“The National Weather Service reports it has been the driest spring on record in Fort Wayne, which has received only 4.99 inches of rain since March 1 — 5.51 inches below normal. It’s South Bend’s eighth driest spring, with just 5.4 inches of rain. And Evansville has received just 5.92 inches of rainfall since March 1, 6.68 inches below normal. “
“The lack of rain has led to the state Department of Natural Resources closing the beach at Salamonie Lake in Andrews, 30 miles southwest of Fort Wayne. The DNR also is discouraging water skiing because the lake is 14 feet below normal, leaving water skiers more vulnerable to underwater hazards. “
Rain is never a good thing for baseball, even if Luke Bryan says it’s a good thing.
Lee Greenwood…take it away!
Saturday was not the best of nights for the TinCaps as they lost 11-2 to Bowling Green at Parkview Field. Here’s how it breaks down:
Saturday’s loss either set or tied several marks for the TinCaps. The 11 runs were the most surrendered in one game, and the seven runs given up in the eighth were the most scored by an opponent in one frame this year. The nine-run margin of defeat tied a mark set earlier this year against Burlington. The four errors tied a season high. Fort Wayne’s three base hits tied the season low for hits in a single game. The four extra base hits by Bowling Green tied a season high allowed by Fort Wayne, as did the seven walks given up by TinCaps pitching.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Lee Orr and Yeison Asencio did hit back-to-back homers in the second inning, which was really fun to see as the crowd got into the ballgame early on. It was the fifth home run of the year for Orr, who is now tied for the team lead with Austin Hedges. Today is the 50th game of the year for the TinCaps and Orr has only played in 12. He’s got power, folks.
Matt Wisler takes on Roberto Gomez tonight at 7:05. These two squared off last Monday, and the TinCaps edged the Hot Rods for a 4-3 win. Wisler went four innings, and thus wasn’t eligible for a win. He allowed two runs on seven hits. Gomez took the loss in that game, allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. Fort Wayne will seek to snap a two-game skid tonight.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear as Fort Wayne Manager Jose Valentin describes where things went wrong for the TinCaps on Saturday night:
Yesterday, I brought you a fantastic catch that featured an outfielder flying over an outfield wall to save a home run. Today a run does score in the video, and it’s on the rarest of stolen base plays:
Each morning when I wake up, I scour Twitter to see what’s been left behind from the night before and what good things there might be to check out for the coming day. This piece in The New York Times by Bobby Ojeda struck me as the best that I’ve read in quite a while.
The lefty, who won a title with the Mets in 1986, now works as an analyst for the Mets’ TV network, SNY. He retired in 2004, but the memories which he writes about in this story are vivid. It’s a story of pain, struggle and a desire to succeed. If you’ve got ten minutes while you’re lounging by the pool today, check to make sure that your kids have re-applied their sunscreen, and then make sure you read this story.
“I have no regrets. Would I change some things? Sure. Who wouldn’t, but that’s not how the game or life works. Once a pitch is thrown, you don’t get it back. As for the pain and the lying and the treatments and operations? I signed on for that. No one forced me, and in some weird way, I enjoyed it — not the problems but the burning desire to play through them.
To get to play a game for a living? Are you kidding me? Sign me and my left arm up again. Actually, maybe me and my right arm. I’ve never iced it once.”
Tom Petty…take it away!
Friday night’s ballgame was maybe the best pitching matchup any Midwest League game has seen this year as Fort Wayne’s Adys Portillo faced South Bend’s Archie Bradley. Portillo entered with the circuit’s lowest ERA and Bradley came in with the league’s best batting average against (BAA). Portillo, in six innings, allowed just two baserunners as he gave up one walk and one hit. He’s now got the third best WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in the league at 0.97, which ranks first among the eight Eastern Division teams. His .155 BAA would be the best in the major leagues, although we’ve got to consider scale since most players in the Midwest League don’t have two full seasons under their belts.
Bradley had a great fastball, but had trouble locating his curveball and he was tagged for three runs in the third. That 3-0 TinCaps lead held until the seventh when Justin Hancock allowed three runs to tie the game.
The game ended up going to extras, and a wild pitch from James Needy allowed the winning run to score for South Bend. Not an easy way to finish the series, but the TinCaps won the first two games, and have now won back-to-back series.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, Tom Felice tells the story of Lee Orr and Jace Peterson. The two were college teammates at McNeese State and now have been reunited in Fort Wayne.
Lee Orr hit two home runs in the most recent three-game series with South Bend, and the one that he hit on Thursday night traveled quite a long way. The following photos are intended to demonstrate just how far he hit the baseball.
His Thursday homer bounced to the top of the middle window of that building on one hop. I ‘m good at neither math nor estimation, but I’d say it’s probably close to 100 feet between the pole and the team store. That’d mean Orr hit it almost 430 feet. That’s a long home run.
A STELLAR CATCH
I saw this on Twitter and felt compelled to share:
“During the first round of the NWAACC baseball championships, Lower Columbia College outfielder Derrick Salberg leaps over the fence to make a game-ending catch to rob Everett of a two-run home run and preserve a 4-2 victory. Video courtest of KLTV in Longview, Wash.”
That outfielder may have needed an ibuprofen or five in the morning for his back, but that’s one heck of a play. That said, why was the fence only knee high? Anyone?
Jimi Hendrix…at Woodstock…take it away!
I can now say that after Thursday’s game in South Bend, I’ve called a game (well at least a half inning) in a manner I’ve never experienced: with a piece of tissue in my left nostril.
Let’s set the scene…It’s about 7:03 PM in the visiting radio booth at Coveleski Stadium and I’ve just tossed to the final commercial break before the national anthem begins and the game can get underway. So I say something along the lines of “First pitch comes your way next. It’s the TinCaps and the Silver Hawks on 1380 ESPN.” So far, so good.
Then, I stand up. You know that feeling when you think your nose is running, but it happens a little too quickly and you get worried. Yeah…that. It was 85 degrees outside, so it’s not like I had the sniffles or anything. I had to stay standing, though, because the anthem was being performed.
So I took a tissue out of my pocket to try and dab away whatever was coming my way, thinking “No big deal” and bam…nosebleed. Uh oh. I’ve only got about two minutes at this point, depending on the anthem singer’s speed, to get this to stop. Well, it didn’t stop by the time we heard, “The following is a presentation of 1380 ESPN and The Fort Wayne TinCaps…”, and that means I’ve got about 30 seconds to go.
I begin to have every nightmare situation run through my head. I think back to the year 2004, when my oldest sister graduated from Providence College. It’s my entire family out at a really nice restaurant and we’re celebrating with a fancy dinner. Leave it to me to have a nosebleed that lasts the entire dinner. The entire night my middle sister was running back and forth to the bathroom to get me more tissues. Lesson learned: never take me to a nice restaurant.
Back in the booth, quick thinking was needed…
What do I do?
Well, I just ripped off a giant hunk of tissue and hoped that it would act as the Kleenex Hoover Dam to my Colorado Blood River. Luckily it did, and by the time the top of the first was over, I was back in working order.
What makes this all the more entertaining for me is that the TinCaps scored five runs in the first inning, including an Austin Hedges grand slam. And that was only Thursday. Who knows what Friday will bring!
Oddities aside, the TinCaps have now won four games in a row, which ties their season-long winning streak. Donavan Tate has hit in eight consecutive games, tying Matt Colantonio for the longest hit streak of the season. Lee Orr has homered four times in 10 games, and Hedges now leads the team with five homers and 24 knocked in.
Tonight’s pitching matchup should be pretty good, too. The scheduled starters are Adys Portillo for Fort Wayne (league best ERA) and Archie Bradley for South Bend (6 wins, league-low .132 BAA).
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from shortstop who made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, going 3-5 and knocking in two runs. He shares what he remembers of the injury that put him on the disabled list and his jubilation about returning to action:
DANCING WITH THE TINCAPS
It’s commonly known that pitchers tend to have a lot of time on their hands. If you’re a starter, the mound is yours once every five days. So during the other four days, you’re watching the game. If you’re a closer, you’re generally not needed in innings 1-8, and sometimes 9.
Thus, I present to you one starter and one closer: Cody Hebner and Matt Stites, as they showcase their dancing talents with Myron Noodleman:
I think those guys might have watched this video a few times before taking the field with Myron:
James Brown…take it away!
It’s TinCaps and Silver Hawks in game two of a three-game swing in South Bend, sometimes known as The Wagon City, and at one point, known as The Lotion City, according to this article in The South Bend Tribune.
Fort Wayne has won three games in a row, and a win tonight would push the streak to a season-high-tying four. Here are a few notes to get you up to speed for tonight’s ballgame:
From Hebner to Garces: The TinCaps have scored 7.2 runs per game when Cody Hebner, who started Wednesday, takes the hill. However when Frank Garces pitches, that number drops to 3.9. In the last three starts for Garces, the team has scored exactly three runs in each game.
Cropper on the Spot: Since being added to the roster nearly one month ago, Daniel Cropper had made for a reliable option out of the bullpen. He has gone 11-11 in retiring the first batter he’s faced and has collected four saves in five tries, tying Matt Stites, who is on the disabled list, for the team lead. The 24-year-old righty has allowed a run in just one of his 12 appearances, while walking one and striking out 13.
Successful Return: Jace Peterson’s return to the lineup saw him pick up where he left off. When Peterson went on the disabled list, he was leading the team in average and was in the league’s top five in OBP. He went 3-5 with two runs batted in on Wednesday, raising his average from .315 to .326. Peterson remains the team’s leader in stolen bases with 15.
Hitting coach Jacque Jones was the featured guest on “Fantasy Baseball 360″, a daily web show on CBSSports.com, yesterday after the game. He talked about his approach as a teacher, his time as a player and weighed in on current MLB topics like the struggles of Albert Pujols.
MLB’S FEMALE GROUNDSKEEPERS
ESPN.com has a great feature on two female groundskeepers in Major League Baseball. There are not only Midwest League ties in the piece, but also a tie to a name you’ll surely know from the Padres farm system.
“(Heather) Nabozny joined the Tigers in 1999, Detroit’s final season at Tiger Stadium, becoming the first female head groundskeeper in the majors after working as the head groundskeeper for the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Tigers’ Class A affiliate.
Scott Lane, the Whitecaps’ president, said Nabozny’s work at the minor league level caught the eye of the Tigers’ major league staff.
“Randy Smith was general manager at the time for the Tigers. Steve Lubratich [now the Indians' director of player personnel] was their director of player development, so he was kind of a head guy at the minor leagues,” Lane said. “They are up in the owner’s suite level, and they are sitting there talking. Randy looks at Steve and says, ‘Why doesn’t our field at Tiger Stadium look this good?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know. Maybe it’s the groundskeeper.’ Shortly thereafter, they offered her the position.”
As you know, the Whitecaps are in the Midwest League and the TinCaps see them plenty through the course of the regular season.
Randy Smith, the former GM of the Tigers, is currently the director of player development for the Padres. He was recently in Fort Wayne, and you can see my interview with him by clicking here.
Billy Joel…take it away!
After an off day on Tuesday for the TinCaps, they came to play today in South Bend with their batteries fully charged. Lee Orr smashed his third home run in nine games, Jace Peterson returned from the disabled list by going 3-5 with two runs batted in, and Donavan Tate knocked in two runs, too. Cody Hebner worked his shortest outing of the year going four innings and giving up a season-high five runs, but the TinCaps managed to score enough to earn a 7-5 win over South Bend.
The fourth inning was the big frame, with each team attacking the other’s starter for four runs. Fort Wayne sent eight men to the plate in its half of the fourth, and South Bend batted around in its half. Nevertheless, the TinCaps got some insurance with a Tate RBI single in the ninth, and Daniel Cropper, who has now pitched in three straight games, notched his fourth save in five tries.
The team is now just two games under .500 as they try to get back to even, which hasn’t been the case since the second day of the season when the record was 1-1, two games into the opening series against Lake County.
Tomorrow’s matchup with South Bend should be an interesting one, as Frank Garces tries to rebound from his shortest outing of the year (2.2 IP, 5R, 1ER, 4BB, 2K) on Friday against Lansing. South Bend, which recently had a promotion in its rotation, tosses Blake Perry to the hill for his first Midwest League appearance.
DON’T RUN THE SHOWS
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but for the shows that I do follow, if anyone ruins them for me, I am devastated. If you wait all week to watch a show and then hear someone talking about what happened that week before you had a chance to watch…terrible.
Thus, GQ has come out with rules for watching TV in the age of DVR. The highlights:
Never, ever bring up spoilers at the office without first asking, “Did you see [name of show] last night?” And please, keep your spoiler-laden watercooler gabfest to a low volume.
Don’t try to talk your way around a spoiler. The worst person in the world is the one who, upon learning you haven’t watched something, then tries to talk about it anyway with, “All I’ll say is…” NO! All you will say is nothing. Telling me my mind will be blown still ruins it.
I think we can all agree on those terms.
THE GREAT GATSBY
Who else would play Gatbsy but Leonardo DiCaprio? I’m very much looking forward to seeing this film, if only because I enjoyed reading the book as much as I did.
The party scenes look appropriately over the top (Gatsbyesque?) and it looks like it’ll have enough drama to make it exciting. Don’t hold your breath though…the movie won’t hit theaters until Christmas.
Grand Funk Railroad…take it away!
The TinCaps delivered in a big way on Sunday afternoon, scoring a 2-1 walk-off win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Down 1-0 headed into the ninth, and without a base hit since the fourth, Fort Wayne got on the board with a Lee Orr home run. It marks his second home run since Wednesday, when he delivered the go-ahead blast that helped the TinCaps defeat the Lansing Lugnuts 5-3.
Following Orr’s Sunday shot, Whitmore, who entered the game in the sixth as a replacement for Kyle Gaedele, lifted a single to right field, scoring Yeison Asencio and setting up the TinCaps for a Monday rubber match against Bowling Green.
Tonight it’s Matt Wisler on the hill for Fort Wayne. The 19-year-old has surrendered just three earned runs in his last 20 2/3 innings.
Here are a few more notes for today’s game:
One Ends, Another Continues: Mike Gallic’s seven-game hitting streak came to an end in Sunday’s win, but Donavan Tate extended his hitting streak to five games. Tate, a the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, has collected at least one hit in each of his five games since returning from the disabled list on May 15th against West Michigan. This five-game streak for Tate matches the longest of his career. His one other five-game streak came last year with the Eugene Emeralds in late June. The longest hit streak this year is eight, held by Matt Colantonio.
Orr Delivers: In just seven games with Fort Wayne, Lee Orr has helped deliver the TinCaps to victory twice. On Wednesday at Lansing with two outs and two strikes against him in the ninth, Orr connected on a three-run home run to put Fort Wayne in front 5-3 for good. His home run on Sunday to tie the game at 1 marked the 10th longball of his professional career in 233 at bats.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Whitmore after his game-winning hit as he talks about what he was looking for at the plate, and the resiliency of the club to come back and pick up the win:
WANNA FEEL OLD?
Well, stop reading if you don’t. However if you don’t mind a little trip down memory lane, you’ll enjoy hearing that MTV’s “The Real World” debuted 20 years ago today. So when you get angry/excited/indifferent about having the Kardashians on every channel and having reality shows about the type of lint people get out of their dryers, you can trace it all back to this “The Real World”.
Today also would have been the 40th birthday of rapper Notorious B.I.G. His real name was Christopher Wallace, and his mother talked to The Source about his legacy:
“When he passed away, I never knew he was so famous. I never knew he was so well liked, maybe because I never listened to the music. But I guess over the years, I love it more and appreciate the art more,” she said.
“For someone to think of my son, his music, his legacy, and can smile about it, I’m happy for them. If it makes you happy, then I’m happy.”
Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably heard the music of arguably the world’s most famous rapper at one point or another in your life.
John Mayer and Keith Urban…take it away!
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